Every generation is known for something that has cemented itself solidly in the pop culture history books. While the 70’s had Bowie and the 80’s welcomed a new age of gaming, the 1990’s had something a bit more colourful in mind.
In 1993, five teenagers with attitude were fitted into spandex, acting as the world’s first line of defense against the evil alien sorceress, Rita Repulsa. Completely immortalized for future reference, The Power Rangers sparked an international sensation including several series, a few motion pictures and merchandise spanning everything from replica swords to bed sheets. It is safe to say that The Power Rangers quickly found success in the hearts of an ever-growing fan base, becoming one of the most nostalgic television series in history.
After screaming ‘It’s Morphin Time’ in front of the mirror for 25 years, the franchise now celebrates the milestone with a special episode of Super Ninja Steel, set to air on August 28th, a day that has now officially been claimed as National Power Rangers Day. Welcoming back Tommy Oliver (Jason David Frank), Katherine Hillard (Catherine Sutherland), Jason Faunt (Wes Collins) and Gemma (Li Ming Hu), the special episode titled ‘Dimensions in Danger’ will see classic Rangers teaming up with the Super Ninja Steel cast to fight against a villain known as Lord Drayvon.
Before investing ourselves in the future, we talked to Catherine Sutherland about the legacy of the show and the memories that will withstand the tests of time.
Sutherland is known the portrayal of Kat Hillard, the second generation Pink Ranger, following that of Amy Jo Johnson. Quickly settling in as a fan favorite, Sutherland formed long lasting friendships on and off screen.
When the show was first announced, show runners recall thousands of applicants auditioning for the roles of the Ranger team, with only a few being successful. Some actors recall the strenuous audition process, being given a set of different tasks based on their professional background. Sutherland, who joined the show later than the others, recalls it differently. “I didn’t even know about the show when I auditioned, it was just a regular audition for me,” she said. “I had three auditions total. The first one was a couple of scenes, the second was a scene and a one minute martial arts routine and the third and final was down to about five girls”. Of the many actors who applied and auditioned, Sutherland made it to the final round, catching the eye of one of the show runners. “We each met with one of the executive producers, Shuki Levy. I think it was about two weeks later I got the call asking me how I would feel about moving to Hollywood,” she said. “You can imagine how excited I was”.
No one could predict it’s success at the beginning, but during The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers long television reign, it struck a chord for many reasons. “When I came onto the show, it was really at its peak. The first movie was just coming out and they were like rock stars in the world of kids,” Sutherland said. “I had no idea I would be here 23 years later. It’s a huge blessing and honor to be part of this franchise, we have the most amazing and loyal fans”.
The Rangers constantly in battle meant scenes required a monumental effort for choreography. Walter Jones, known for a background in martial arts, and David Yost who was a trained dancer, made it easier as they would sometimes choreograph their own scenes. “I give all the credit to the amazing stunt coordinator Koichi and his incredible stunt team,” Sutherland said. “They really made us all look good”.
With the 90’s in full swing, the colourful show brought everything from creepy villains to relatable characters, giving each and everyone of us a reason to fall in love. For the cast, their fondest memories extend further than the screen. “My first day on set comes to mind. It was the first time meeting all the rangers and there were so many people there to watch me. I was extremely nervous but feeling exhilarated at the same time,” Sutherland said. “Any time we got to travel was awesome. We went to Mammoth to film the episode ‘There’s No Business Like a Snow Business’”.
The departure of first generation Pink Ranger Kimberly Hart (played by Amy Jo Johnson) welcomed Sutherland in the role of Kat Hillard. ‘A Different Shade of Pink’ ushered in a new era for the Ranger team, giving Sutherland her grand entrance. Throughout her 98-episode run, Sutherland recalls her favored moments. “I loved an episode I did in Turbo called ‘Weight and See’ because it had such an important message about accepting who you are and your heart being more important than what you look like on the outside”.
Attending conventions all over the world, fans have been able to meet Sutherland. “Fans have been so generous over the years and most of the things I have is from them,” she said.
You can catch Catherine Sutherland in the 25th anniversary episode of Super Ninja Steel.