The Power Rangers television show introduced its first LGBTQ+ ranger in September. Now the actor who plays the ranger, Tessa Rao, has opened up about playing such a historic role in the series.
In the latest iteration of the much-beloved franchise, Power Rangers Dino Fury, Izzy, the Green Ranger, is seen holding hands with the female character Fern in a recent episode.
“It means so much … This story is what made me, and continues to make me want to do this job,” Rao told ComicBook.com about playing Izzy as an LGBTQ+ character. “It's one of the most powerful things that we can do as performers is tell the stories of people that haven't been told either at all or correctly or enough, and there are a lot of stories like that out there, not just this one.”
Rao added: “I don't think that it's the only part of Izzy that's important, I think it's just part of her identity, but I also can totally respect and appreciate how big of a moment this is. And I’m really proud. I just feel so proud to be a part of it.”
The actor said that she found out about her character’s sexual orientation in an email after she was offered the role.
“They said, ‘Just a heads up, your character’s going to have to cut her hair, and she’s going to be part of the LGBTQ+ community.’ And I was like, okay, well all good with the second one, but cutting my hair? What? That felt scarier to me,” Rao said. “The other part, I was like, that’s awesome. Okay, cool.”
When the episode was released internationally, before its U.S. premiere, the show’s executive producer Simon Bennett wrote on Twitter that he was happy at the positive reaction from fans of the franchise.
While the Green Ranger is the first queer character in the TV series, she isn’t the first queer character in the Power Rangers universe. In the 2017 film, the Yellow Ranger, Trini comes out.
Power Rangers Dino Fury can be streamed on Netflix.