There is no doubt in my mind that Jacqueline Scislowski is the Yellow Ranger. Yes, it’s fact that she currently plays Zoey Reeves who is actually the Yellow Ranger in Beast Morphers, the latest season of Power Rangers, but what I mean is that if you were to assign people a color of the rainbow to describe them, she would easily be yellow. At least based on my experience talking on the phone with her in March where she’s full of energy, jokes, and excitement wherever possible. Coming from Chicago, she’s currently in LA where at the time of our convo she shared that she was doing well, given everything going on. “This is kind of like my comfort zone, I’m kind of a homebody so I haven’t hit that wall yet where I’m like itching to get out, but I know it’ll come eventually,” she says.
Lately, though, she’s been able to keep busy with fans excited about season two of Power Rangers: Beast Morphers. Set in the city of Coral Harbor, Beast Morphers follows the latest team of Power Rangers–Devon, Ravi, Zoey, Nate, and Steel–who must defend the Morphin Grid against Evox and evil avatar clones Blaze and Roxy.
Jacqueline’s start to becoming a Power Ranger unintentionally began six months before her audition when she coincidentally got into stunt training. Still, Jacqueline describes the martial arts-based stunt training required to be a Power Ranger as being something that was still new to her. “I definitely can admit I was flailing a little bit when trying to look fierce at first,” she says laughing at herself. “So [it] took a few months and weeks of training but it was definitely really fun and I kind of can’t imagine my life without it.”
In terms of the move that solidified for her that she was officially a Power Ranger, she immediately says when she was finally able to do a kick-up. “I had my personal trainer at the time like incorporate moves in our workout that would help me get that solid and on the day when I actually had to do it in the final audition, I nailed it and I didn’t wobble or anything. That was like the best feeling in the world and I was like, ‘Okay, now I feel like a superhero,'” Jacqueline beams.
A former member of Hip Hop ConnXions in Chicago for seven years, Jaqueline gives thanks to her dance experience for helping her learn stunts. “I also did gymnastics which helps with flexibility but yeah it definitely all tied it together with knowing how to control my body and also pick up on choreography faster.” Alongside the help of the stunt crew of a Japanese and New Zealand stunt team that she described as so professional she trusted them with her life, the cast was able to be both safe and show off the stunts they learned.
I have a theory that at least everyone has had at least one moment in their lives where they’ve felt like a Power Ranger or pretended they were a Power Ranger. Maybe it’s not in the same way of Jacqueline’s where she was able to perfect a kick-up while auditioning to literally play a Power Ranger, but we still all have one. “I think just the central theme of [Power Rangers] is what kind of connects everybody in every generation,” Jacqueline begins when I ask her about the franchise’s influence lasting this long. “I think its because the show really tries to portray just kind of regular teenagers who are dealing with similar things to any teenager and I think every single episode there’s some sort of lesson to be learned. A lot of people connect with it and sometimes, it’s that advice that they needed that they’ve been looking for when they’re dealing with that situation. It’s just always been something that people can go to for a little bit of courage or a boost of confidence or even some advice which it definitely does a great job of that.”
[Power Rangers has] just always been something that people can go to for a little bit of courage or a boost of confidence or even some advice which it definitely does a great job of that.
Beast Morphers carries that notion on as this new team of Rangers deals with the responsibilities that come with the job while also dealing with growing up. “I think it’s really nice because you can see really just five different teenagers–well one of them is a robot, but same thing,” she jokes. “But I think you get to see four different teenagers who are all super different and come with their own sort of flaws and strengths. It’s really neat that they kind of just get thrown into this situation where now they’re Power Rangers and now they’re a team and you even get to see in a lot of episodes the struggle of who’s the leader? Who’s gonna take charge? When do you collaborate as a group? And when does one person’s idea take the lead on everything? I think it’s really cool because even if you’re not on a team of sorts, it just shows a really cool dynamic between a friend group and a bunch of different people.”
Jacqueline notes how the Beast Morphers team offer support for one another and have each other’s backs while also “sticking around during times where [they] were maybe wrong and kinda working through it as a team or maybe a group of friends.” In that regard, she’s excited about the ways in which Power Rangers: Beast Morphers encourages healthy friendships, understanding, and compassion.
Those qualities are seen a lot in Zoey even in the beginning when she’s working as a laundry girl after being denied entry to the Ranger program. Still, she’s very hopeful about the program and has not only big dreams but plans revolving around it. “I think what draws her in is that she really, really wants to help,” Jacqueline starts. “She always wants to be able to be actively apart of the community and helping people so I think that’s kind of what inspired her to train to be a battle force cadet and then she didn’t make it in. But, I think that’s why she decided to go into laundry because she was like, ‘Well, they need help in the laundry department, that’s something useful I might as well do it.’ And while she’s working in laundry, she’s still thinking of ideas and when the mayor comes she’s so courageous she doesn’t even think twice and takes the lead and shows them around and pitches ideas to him which I think is so amazing,” she exclaims.
“That is something I wish I could and I am so envious of her courage in that sense. But when she actually becomes a Power Ranger, I think it’s kind of everything she had always sort of hoped for,” Jacqueline continues about Zoey’s Power Ranger journey. “It’s the most, kind of, powerful position she could help from so I think she really takes it seriously and it definitely still is sorta scary for her, but yeah, she doesn’t run away from big problems so she kind of just runs to it open-armed.”
“I think my biggest worry and kind of determination was to make sure that she wasn’t just tough,” Jacqueline says later on during our convo when we discuss Zoey’s willingness to be just as sweet and compassionate as she is tough and driven. “Especially that I was the only girl, I didn’t wanna play her in like a defensive way because I feel like if she was just kinda strong all the time, it would almost seem like she doesn’t feel confident in her position and I think Zoey is very confident. But also, she’s always thinking of everybody else before herself so I really wanted to show the sweet side and I wanted to show the dynamic between her and Jax and their friendship. I think anybody, girls, too and boys as well, you always have the moments where you doubt yourself or you are wrong or you have the best intentions and it doesn’t exactly come off that way.” With the goal to show authenticity, Jacqueline gives thanks to the writers for intending her to be a “strong girl character” that didn’t shed her emotions in order to do it.
With Zoey idealizing being a Power Ranger for so long and wanting to make sure the work she does helps others, I ask Jacqueline if the way Zoey views being a Power Ranger has shifted since she’s become one. “I think it could have changed because in my eyes when I was thinking about Zoey and her mindset, I figured that kind of becoming a Power Ranger of sorts would be this kind of fantasy but now that she actually is one–because they are a secret–I think she probably takes it a lot more seriously in that sense. It’s like kind of a dream come true, but there are people’s lives at stake, there’s the environment at stake, there are so many things that we have to be able to balance and take seriously and really think through.”
“If anything, I think maybe she just realized how real this is and how important her job is as well as the whole team,” Jacqueline sums it up.
Being a part of this team, Jacqueline looks at Zoey as wearing multiple hats including keeping everybody on their toes. “I think she’s just always really thinking. She’s always trying to think of, ‘Okay, what can we do what can I do? Is everybody gonna be okay?’ Or you know, she’s had her little competitive side and her and Ravi sometimes are always trying to prove who’s the better teammate. So I think she kind of keeps things interesting. I think she also brings everybody together too, you know? I think you see a lot of times Devon as the leader is trying to figure out his position in making the right calls and I think she’s always there to be like, ‘I know he’s not thinking clearly right now, but we’ll give him some space, he’ll get it and we’ll be there waiting for him when he cools off and we’ll be a team again. So she’s sorta like the peacemaker as well.”
I feel like each [Power Ranger] season has honestly always been at the core about courage, friendship, solving problems, and helping.
Secret or not, having this new part of her life results in a few shifts from her life before. While Zoey’s mom always believed in her to be a member of the Ranger Program, she’s now the only one on the team whose parent isn’t aware she’s a Ranger. “I think it is really hard because I, too, feel like Zoey and her mom had the strongest bond possibly out of all of the characters,” she agrees once I bring it up. “But, I also think that her mom is very busy so it’s almost that we both have such busy schedules it’s almost like there’s never a time for it to even come up. Except for that one time we saw in season one when she [Zoey’s mom] hints at, ‘Oh, you’ll be the leader of Grid Battle Force one day.’ But yeah, I definitely think she struggles with it because I definitely think they would have a really strong bond even more so if she was able to share that.” Since Zoey knows the importance of keeping her Ranger identity a secret, Jacqueline reasons, she’s focusing on that and being the best Power Ranger she can be.
That can prove tricky in some regards, however, such as the rule that Rangers aren’t allowed to date which already caused issues for Ravi and Roxy at the start of the series when Roxy was originally supposed to be the Yellow Ranger. Now, Zoey and Nate have to navigate having feelings for each other while still honoring their Ranger code. “I was super excited, so was Abraham [Rodriguez, who plays Nate] because we had kinda just instantly became the best of friends when we were on our way to New Zealand. We had never met before, but we had instantly just clicked so when we found out we were love interests, we were so excited,” Jacqueline shares.
“I think definitely season one laid down the groundwork for all of us and our characters and our relationships but I think season two, there is a lot more development in a lot of the storyline, so you have to keep watching to find out,” she hints with what’s to come with the two. In terms of what we can look forward to with the rest of the season and what she can and can’t say, Jacqueline does say that we’ll get to dive deeper into each characters’ personal life in ways we haven’t seen before.
Jacqueline also expresses her excitement for viewers to see the dynamic between the Rangers and Roxy and Blaze’s evil avatars the rest of this season, “I think it’s gonna get a lot more fun and it’s something that I really enjoyed filming and there’s a lot of cool things that came with it.”
One of the benefits (and challenges) of joining a long-running franchise like Power Rangers is the amount of preexisting material to lean on and refer to. In Jacqueline’s case, she says she tried to watch as many seasons as she could of the show before going to film in New Zealand as well as watching Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters (the Super Sentai series that Beast Morphers is adapted from). “I think [that’s] where I got sorta most of my inspiration from because the Yellow Ranger in that, she was actually really quite similar to me and that was kind of cool.” One similar detail between the two that is exciting for Jacqueline is Yoko Usami’s (the Yellow Buster/Ranger) energy booster being adapted to carrots for Zoey in Beast Morphers. “It was actually this box of little candy that was like Skittles and I absolutely loved that. And I think she actually referenced boba at one point which everybody knows I’m like obsessed with boba and so it was all meant to be,” Jacqueline says of the original show.
Currently, if there are any plans for a generational team up, Jacqueline doesn’t know anything about it, although she says fingers crossed about there ever being a possibility. It certainly wouldn’t be unheard of for former Power Rangers to return and make guest appearances, but only time will tell regarding us seeing it again soon. Until then, we all have our imaginings of what a new team-up would look like.
I think being the Yellow Ranger is more than just wearing the outfit and filming and being on a cool tv show.
When I ask Jacqueline what hers would look like, she’s filled with excitement while exclaiming, “I have no idea! I would have to think about this for, like, weeks!” Taking a little time to figure out a concept before giving her answer she starts, “Honestly, what if we had at least three people from every single season come together? Or like, at least one person from each generation, I think that would be so epic. I mean, I just feel like every single generation could just kind of compare notes in a sense. Like, I feel like each season has honestly always been at the core about courage, friendship, solving problems, and helping.”
“I just feel like maybe the characters can sorta give advice on what they’ve done that works, what they’ve done that didn’t work, and just kind of give them some wise words and tips on how to keep going and believing in yourself and shooting higher and higher and create even more help and world peace,” Jacqueline concludes with a small laugh.
Still, even without the guidance of the previous Rangers, the team seems to be managing and figuring their roles out together both on the show and in real life. “I always kind of say being the Yellow Ranger didn’t stop for me once we finished filming because of how long the franchise has been on. I think being the Yellow Ranger is more than just wearing the outfit and filming and being on a cool tv show,” she admits regarding the real-life responsibilities she feels like she has to uphold. “I mean, there are a lot of kids that are growing up and watching us and adults and people who really look to the show for advice and for everything we talked about earlier. So I definitely try to hold that up even just on my own and on my social media. You know, I try to be encouraging, I try to be raw and just post what I look like all the time which is usually my hair is crazy and whatnot, but I try to just kind of really keep it real, keep it light-hearted and encouraging, and keep everybody laughing. So I definitely think being the Yellow Ranger is a hat that I always am wearing.”
As a fan of yellow prior to joining the show, Jacqueline share’s that while she hasn’t been recognized a lot in public aside from a few times, how often she wears yellow outside of the show has been up for jokes and conversation. “I just genuinely love wearing yellow and I have a lot of yellow clothes and people just assume that I now buy clothes that are yellow on purpose so that I do get recognized but I’m just like, ‘Guys, I just happen to have yellow clothes, I happen to already like the color before I knew I was the Yellow Ranger.’ So that’s been kinda funny but I definitely still wear yellow and other colors,” Jacqueline adds the last part quickly.
I follow up asking if she ever feels like she’s cheating on being the Yellow Ranger when she wears a different color and she beams at the question. “People will really call me out and comment and be like, ‘Wow, so now you’re the Red Ranger, huh?'” She says in a sarcastically lighthearted tone. “Like it feels a little bit weird now. Depending also on what I’m doing, if it’s anything Power Rangers related at all, I feel scared to not wear something with yellow. Also in auditions too nowadays, I don’t want to wear yellow, but I also sometimes am and I’m like, ‘I don’t want them to think that I’m like coming in here advertising that, ‘Hey! I’m the Yellow Ranger as well!'” she exclaims in an animated voice.
Upcoming, Jacqueline recently wrapped two films; Top of the Class, a Lifetime movie that she says is hopefully coming out sometime in/around September, and The Root of Perfection which she describes similar to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in terms of genre and feel. Otherwise, she’s dealing with our current situation in quarantine by trying to remain creative. “I have been doing some lives a lot lately, so I would just say come on my lives,” she says in terms of her, self-described-quirky, random stuff. “I kind of collaborate with whoever’s watching and I think of new video ideas. I’m working on doing my first standup maybe, I don’t know,” she reveals both excited and slightly and hesitant. “The fans convinced me to try and do that. I don’t consider myself a standup comedian, but we’ll figure that out. So yeah, I dunno, that’s my news.”
You can stay up to date on all things Power Rangers by following their Twitter account. The midseason finale of Power Rangers: Beast Morphers airs this Saturday (4/25/2020) on Nickelodeon.
(photo cred: Charlie Mcknee)