It’s hard to believe the “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018. Walter E. Jones, who played the Black Ranger (aka Zack Taylor) from 1993-1994, was there from the beginning. Along with his castmates, the original squad of rangers lit the fuse on an unstoppable global phenomenon. Those early years began an iconic legacy that continues to inspire and unite fans of all ages while allowing them to embrace the values of community, teamwork and adventure. A quarter of a century later, the original cast remain cultural icons and continue to thrill fans around the globe. Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Walter E. Jones to discuss his time on the series, the impact it had on him and his career, the enduring popularity of the series, his most recent project and more!
How did you get involved with the arts early on in life?
I guess I started with the arts through church. Easter plays and kids choir.
What went into finding your creative voice as a young man?
Competition I guess. My cousins were very talented. I wanted to be as good at anything they were good at! I had to see where I could shine.
Who were your biggest influences as an artist?
Michael Jackson was a huge influence. I believed I could be like him. My dad was also a big inspiration. He was a preacher. He was passionate when he spoke, and we were always singing gospel tunes in the car. He would ask me to do impressions of different celebs. I would do my best and he would laugh so hard we would all laugh with him. Then he would say “Do it again, Walt.”
What made you know acting was a career you wanted to pursue professionally?
I didn’t know it was going to be my career till I went to college. I had a partial scholarship. I saw how much money I would owe when I graduated and thought this is no joke. I’d better take this really seriously.
Pursuing your passion is a big step. Did you have reservations about taking the plunge?
I was working right out of college. Singing, dancing and acting. I worked for Princess cruise lines for three years. I liked it so much I considered becoming a cruise director. I thought before I committed my life to that I had to give Hollywood a shot. So, I did, and I stayed.
How did you break into the industry?
I broke into the industry through dance. I got a dance agent at Bobby Ball Talent Agency that took me across the board, meaning theatrically and commercially. They got me into the room to audition for Power Rangers.
What can you tell us about your earliest roles in those formative years?
I always looked so young. Funny enough; I did several stage roles where I played an old man.
You are recognizable to fans around the globe from your iconic role on the original “Power Rangers” series. How did you get involved with the project?
It was an audition. I had the right skills in the right place at the right time!
At what point was it clear to you and your castmates this show was a phenomenon?
The show aired at number one and stayed there so we knew we had something good! We didn’t realize the global impact till much later.
The series is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. What is it about the “Power Rangers” that continues to resonate with fans old and new?
I think it has a cliffhanger effect. The characters are likable and relatable, and you just have to see how they are going to handle the next situation with teenage style.
I imagine being a part of a cultural phenomenon can be a blessing and a curse for an actor. What were some of the pros and cons or ups and downs you experienced?
The pros are the fans! We have amazing fans and we wouldn’t still be here without them. The cons are … this show has dwarfed other achievements that I am also proud of.
Will we see the proper return of Zach and the other original rangers to the Power Rangers universe?
No. I would love to come back but I don’t know that they will make it happen. The union aspect seems to be a problem — Screen Actors Guild. Who knows, maybe the next movie.
While “Power Rangers” was a huge milestone for your career, you continue to stay busy through the years and have been part of a lot of awesome projects. Which of them had the biggest impact on you and your craft?
I loved working on “The Shield.” It’s been the shows that let me explore my talent for darker characters that have stood out as defining for me.
Tell us about your process for preparing for a new role and bringing each new character to life.
Each character starts with a breakdown of who, what, when, where and why. Then I discover how they resonate to my life and experiences.
What else is on the horizon for you in 2018? Any exciting projects?
There are a few things that I’m excited about but I’m keeping it quiet for now!
Fair enough! I like that you’re keeping us guessing! How have you evolved as an actor over the course of your career?
I feel that I have become quieter in motion. My energy has settled and become more commanding as I continue to grow.
The entertainment industry is a tough business. Where do you look for inspiration to keep the creative fire burning?
My peers! I am amazed by some of the people I know and their tenacity for growth. They are inspired to create.
You have many productive years ahead. Is there a role, genre or project you’re eager to take on?
I want to do romantic comedy. I’d love to play an undercover cop. There’s so much but these come to mind first.
It’s inspiring to see you build a unique career from the ground up. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey?
Do it because you love it!! It’s not an easy road. Wealth and fame come and go but if you love the art you create, happiness will be yours!