Power Rangers fans are responding in a big way to Beast Morphers, the newest season in the long-running franchise. That happens to be for a number of reasons, one of which is the diversity in the cast, something Power Rangers has become known for over the years. Hasbro's first season with the brand brings another first along with it, as Jasmeet Baduwalia is the show's first Punjabi Ranger, giving fans yet another character that they can see themselves in and broadening the franchise' mix of races and ethnicities even further. ComicBook.com had a chance to talk to Baduwalia all about what that means to him, and you can bet it's important.
Baduwalia first told us of the day he found out he was going to play the show's Blue Ranger Ravi, and his family was right there for the big news.
"Honestly, when I did get the call I was on a plane back to Reno," Baduwalia said. "That's when I got the call saying 'okay, you're the new Blue Power Ranger. I had to freak out, I had that freakout moment just thanking everyone, and then when I went home and told my parents they just started crying. They were just like, 'wow this is crazy' because they know about Power Rangers. They knew I was auditioning. They knew the hours I was putting into my training, how I was approaching it, making sure I was skilled enough and going to perform in the audition room. What really got to me was I never knew that an Indian could be a Power Ranger until I got the audition and saying 'okay, let me actually do this to the best of my ability and see if I make a good candidate for becoming a Ranger of whatever color.'"
"It was a really heartfelt day," Baduwalia said. "My parents were crying. My brothers were just like, 'Dang! That's crazy!' Finally. Thanking God, because I was praying to God all those times and I think I keep God next to me all the time. And yeah man, it was just crazy. I was at a loss for words and just really proud of myself, proud of my family for supporting me, for sticking it out with me, and now I'm in New Zealand and I'm being blessed with such a beautiful cast, it's awesome."
He also knows how important it is to see someone that represents you on screen, and couldn't be prouder that he gets to be that for an underrepresented Indian fan base.
'A lot of Indians that reach out to me just say that it's crazy to see one of their own on a big mainstream television show like Power Rangers and I think that's what really got to me and it's really heartfelt," Baduwalia said. "Because at the end of the day you can become ... it just really makes me believe in the saying that goes you can become anything you want ya know? If you want to be a Power Ranger you can be a Power Ranger. Don't worry about how you look, or race, or religion. Anyone can be a Power Ranger."
"After 25 years, the first full-blooded Punjabi ranger that's ever been in the series is in Beast Morphers and I think that really says a lot to my people back in India," Baudwalia said. "To have them see someone that they can relate to now. To have them see someone that's 'Oh, he's one of our own' or 'Oh, he's Punjabi too? I'm Punjabi', and I don't think they ever had that before. It was always relating to another ethnicity or another person that's brown."
Baduwalia sees this as just the next step in making sure Power Rangers, and Hollywood in general, speak to everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or religion.
"But I think that especially in this day and age Asians like us, like Indians are Asians, are really progressing into the industry," Baduwalia said. 'Now is the time that we're all trying to diversify Hollywood and make sure that we're in it."
"Hopefully, after this, there are more Indian Rangers, more ethnic Rangers, more whatever Rangers," Baduwalia said. "Whatever race. I want it to be even more diversified to the point where every single race can say 'oh, we've got a Ranger or we had a Ranger.' Especially after 25 years, there's someone they can connect to."
Last but not least, you have to believe in yourself. "Another thing that really helped me to book this role was I had to believe that I was a Power Ranger, and I think before anyone else believes in you, you have to believe in yourself. That takes you a long way," Baduwalia said.
You can check out even more from our conversation with Baduwalia right here, and make sure to hit me up @MattAguilarCB on Twitter for all things Power Rangers!
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