Jason David Frank, most notable as the Green Ranger, is headed to Awesome Con next month. Find out what his favorite parts of the convention circuit are and his favorite aspects of social media.
Jason David Frank, known as Tommy Oliver on Power Rangers is headed to the nations capital next month to attend Awesome Con. The annual comic convention for the DC metropolitan area that gathers geeks of all things comic and pop culture. JDF is well known on the convention circuit attending multiple events year round around the U.S. as well as all over the world.
Jason has had a passionate fan following since the start. Through his passionate work on the series and his enthusiastic nature with fans he’s easily a fan favorite at conventions. Gossip & Gab had the pleasure of chatting with Jason about his work on Power Ranger as well as his favorite aspects of the convention scene. With Awesome Con around the corner, get ready for morphin time!
I’ll start with an easy one, of all the different costumes you had in Power Rangers, which one was your favorite?
JDF: I would pick the green one, just because it was the first.I went to set and saw that and thought ‘wow, that’s pretty captivating’ no one had really seen anything like that here in America. So the green ranger just kind of stuck in my head; the wings, the suit, everything. So I would probably say the green.
When you first started out on as the green ranger, did you ever think that the role would stay popular decades later?
JDF: I think the way they branded the green ranger and my role/my character, getting the girl on the show…it was like a kids soap opera. I thought Tommy was in and out. I was supposed to be there for a few episodes and then leave. But I think the way they branded the green and white ranger with the limited edition toys – there would only be about 3 or 4 green rangers at Toys’R’us – it made the character super popular but at the same time I really feel passionate about it too. I feel passionate about what I do and I’m so thankful to the fans. That’s one of the reasons I think I have such great turn outs at conventions.
Chuck Norris is never a dull one either. My line was super busy and Chuck’s line was super busy and I’m thinking ‘man, I’m doing a show with Chuck Norris, who would have thought that?’. My fans are so passionate and its snowballed between Mighty Morphin to xeo to dyno thunder. To answer your question, did I think Tommy would be super popular? Originally, I was only supposed to be in ten or so episodes. I wanted to do the best I could and I put a lot of passion into it and my martial arts skills. It wasn’t originally planned but eventually Tommy became the leader.
Were you always into martial arts?
JDF: Yeah. I got into martial arts when I was four. I trained my whole life. When I got the role I was already a national rated competitor, I competed all the time in tournaments. It was a really easy role. 25 years ago not a whole lot of people knew karate, nowadays you can cast some of the best and greatest martial artists because there are tons of them, but back in the day there wasn’t a big pool. So that was an easy role for me. I was already national rated. My audition process was let me go in and run my lines and do a martial arts form. Martial arts in general is so interesting to watch, it doesn’t matter who does it. If you have a good person doing great martial arts you’re just captivated by it. The producers and the executive producers were captivated by the martial arts. The look and being a teen, everything just worked for Tommy.
You are pretty regular on the convention front, what’s your favorite part of the convention scene?
JDF: My favorite part is definitely meeting people. I try to be different from every other celebrity you meet at comic con. I don’t charge appearance fees. Either you get something or you don’t have to get anything. The best part for me is that people can stand in my line and not be so stressed out about I need a certain amount of money to meet this guy. That’s why I don’t do what 90% of the people do – take guarantees.
If you’ve been to a convention you’ll see people just sitting there and you don’t see much of a line and you think ‘How come they aren’t more popular, they’re on this show and that show and I thought their line would be so busy…’ My line is free will. Take pictures, take video I don’t care if you have money. I don’t care if you get something. I just want to make sure that I hear your story. Really, the best for me is for them smiling and leaving.
This comic con has been hectic, I’ve been all over the world. I went to Australia, met some friends, did some high fly stuff over there, I had mass jet leg coming back but no one would know it. I want to make sure that everyone has a good experience. The comic cons I do are really fan driven. That’s what I love about the promoters, they know how to treat the fans. They know who to book, that’s probably why I’m one of their favorite bookings because I’m not there to count the money I’m there to count the blessings.
That’s the reason why I have a continuous fan base and people come back over, and over again. I feed their emotional bank account, I don’t care if they buy anything from me. I’m giving them something that most people don’t give them. I try to deposit wisdom or motivation, like hey you can be an actor or you can do what you want to do.
This Valiant project I’m doing, I’m playing Bloodshot, much like Tommy, he was only in one episode but became the most popular character out of the Valiant world. It’s just giving to people, seeing them turn to being a kid again. It happens all the time, people are shouting and screaming, ‘It’s JDF! That’s the green ranger!’
Recently, I went to a restaurant right by the convention and about ten or twenty people were there and they kept looking at me. I thought they were there for the convention; they came up and asked ‘are you Jason David Frank?’ and I said yeah, I am, and they said ‘We knew it! We didn’t want to bother you’. They didn’t even know about the convention but then we took a group shot. They were clapping and cheering blocks away. I just try to give to people, that’s the part I love.
I’ve seen you at a couple conventions, your area is definitely the most energetic.
JDF: Oh yeah! There was a time when I was in the mall with my wife and I saw this guy hit this kid in the eye and I didn’t even know what was going on. I went over to the kid and asked do you know that guy? Meanwhile the guy is running through the mall. The kid says no he doesn’t, so I was like ‘Are you sure? Because I’m wanted to catch this guy.’ So I bolted down the mall trying to catch this guy, this is not the funny part I wish I had caught him, anyway so I’m chasing this guy. I don’t like bullies, that really bothers me when people just hit people out of the blue. So I’m trying to catch this guy, no luck, I have my backpack on… I really wanted to catch this guy.
I went back and I said you should put ice on that eye but he didn’t really listen to me and was just looking at me and goes, ‘Are you…Are you Jason David Frank? The Green Ranger?’ I was like yeah, and he was like ‘Oh my god, you tried helping me man. You tried saving the day!’ And I was like ‘Yeah, I’m sorry I couldn’t catch that guy, if I did it would have been a different story’. This guy got punched in the eye, but he didn’t care, he pulled out his phone and asked for a selfie. He’s got a black eye and he’s putting his thumb up saying ‘thanks man you made my day’.
That’s pretty cool that I was able to change what probably would have been a sucky day since he got a black eye. Just by trying to help him. I try to be a real super hero in real life, I don’t care if they recognize me. I’m just trying to do what’s right. That’s the kind of stuff that feeds me to go to all these shows, that I can turn someone’s day around by giving them the time and depositing in their emotional bank account. It’s important to give. A lot of fans give back to me. When my mom was passing away, a lot of fans made her last days comfortable by sending prayers and writing things to her. That meant a lot to me. We lean on each other. It’s a win/win for all.
That is really incredible. Since you brought up selfies, in the new Power Rangers movie, during your cameo you brought out your phone to take pictures. What did you think when they first pitched that idea?
JDF: We did two cameos and this one the idea was to show the ‘king of social media’ since I’m always on social media. So they were like ‘we’re thinking of this and you’ll be taking pictures or live streaming, we did this just for you’ and I thought yeah that’s perfect. That’s exactly like something I would do in real life [laughs]. I thought they did great with rebooting the movie. I didn’t hear a lot of fans complain. The brand tried to give the fans something that was really different. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the move and not a lot of complaints. We’ll see what happens in the future with the other movies.
The movie was great. You are very active on social media, do you have a favorite platform?
JDF: I feed pretty much everything through Instagram and then post to Facebook and Twitter. I think at the moment Instagram is definitely my favorite. The only thing I wish they had on Instagram would be that you could respond with a picture like on Facebook. It’s still my favorite platform, I usually tell everyone to tag me on Instagram. That’s the first place I go when I’m floating around social media. After that I’ll hit Facebook and then Twitter.
I was an Instagram user way before it was the big in thing and before Facebook bought it. It’s great to see it grow. I found out I was number 30,000 on the top Instagrams around the world, which doesn’t sound like a big deal but it was a big deal for me to be number 30K among all the Instagram accounts around the world. I’m always reaching out to people and telling them which conventions I’m at. And I use the live programs while I’m at the conventions so if you’re not there you can get a feel of the conventions. It’s kind of like my reality show, My Morphin Life, because I can go live whenever I want. It’s like a reality show all the time. It keeps people connected and intrigued.
Where did you get the idea for your reality show, My Morphin Life?
JDF: I told someone I was thinking of doing a reality show, I shot it on a 5D with a rode mic. I thought I have so many interesting things in my life and I thought 8 minute clips would be great. So, I asked a friend of mine to help shoot it and he said yeah he would produce it. I gave him all my footage, my friend Robert edited it. The first thing we did was the world record sky diving break. I thought it would be fun to jump out of a plane and break a record and figured I’d get a visual for people to watch. No drama. Just 8 minute episodes of my life and I thought what better name than My Morphin Life.
Who had the biggest influence on you, professionally or in general?
JDF: I would say my karate instructor, Chris Casamasha, and my dad, Ray Frank. Chris played the original scorpion in the Mortal Kombat movie. Growing up looking up to him, seeing him in Hollywood, I thought it was really cool. They were the biggest influences in my life.
Do you have any other projects your working on?
JDF: I have two other projects that will be announced later this year and next. But the Valiant project is going to be a pretty good one. We have a great unique cast. That’s going on right now. Stay close to my Instagram page for updates on projects as well as which cons I’m at and the timings for the photos and different events.
I’ll wrap up with, if you can give your fans one piece of advice what would it be?
JDF: I will keep this simple, “Always say I can and never say I can’t.” When I started the show, everyone said you can’t do it, you’ll never go anywhere. I always say ‘I can, I will’ not ‘I can’t, I won’t’. If you say I can’t, I won’t you never will. So simple, “I can, I will” that will get you further in life.
That’s great advice. That’s really important. Thank you so much for your time.
JDF: You’re very welcome.
Jason will be at Awesome Con, June 16-18 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.