RJ Cyler & Becky G on ‘Power Rangers,’ Autism… by Uinterview

The alien-fighting, color-coded teen heroes from your youth have returned in the newest Power Rangers movie. With a new cast, this iteration is more inclusive than any other Power Rangers film or television show to date, or, for that matter, more inclusive than any other blockbuster superhero movie to date.

The film, which was released nationwide on March 24, features both an LGTBQ Ranger and a Ranger diagnosed with autism. Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), is the Blue Ranger and on the spectrum, while Trini Kwan (Becky G) is the Yellow Ranger and grappling with her sexuality.

“[Trini] is definitely embarking on this journey of self discovery in this movie, I think all the characters are, but especially her,” said Becky G in an exclusive video interview with uInterview.

“I think she is questioning [her sexuality]. She doesn’t even know,” said Becky G. “You don’t just wake up and know and accept it and talk about it with people.”

But throughout the film, Trini finds a way to become comfortable with herself, both as a member of the LGTBQ community and as a world-saving superhero.

“[Trini] hates everyone at the beginning of the movie and at first, she kind of feels [the Power Rangers] is an inconvenience but then she realizes that she is exactly where she is supposed to be.”

Billy, on the other hand, has trouble making friends but actively searched for a group to fit into, despite his disability.

“He’s like this whole-hearted kid, he is socially awkward, and he doesn’t really know how to make friends but he takes that chance to make friends because he finds other people that…relate to him a little bit,” Cyler told uInterview exclusively.

When asked about playing the role of a character not often depicted in major films, Cyler said he was grateful.

“It means a lot,” he said, “I get the opportunity to learn something totally new and that excites me in general.”

“We all have these different ways that we think [autism] works or how we think [people with autism] think, and we really don’t know because we aren’t in their shoes. It’s really cool to play a part that is honest to how people on the spectrum feel and it just connects with them in some way.”

Similarly, Becky G feels proud to play an underrepresented character in an honest way and hopes that her portrayal helps those who watch the film.

“Its an honor, truly, because I feel that it is something that is really relevant and really current especially for this generation. I want people to love themselves and to accept themselves and its definitely not something that is easy.”

Power Rangers is currently in theaters across the country and also stars Bryan CranstonBill Hader, and Elizabeth Banks.


Q: Becky, how does it feel to portray the first LGBTQ superhero? -

Honestly, it has been really exciting. It's an honor, truly, because I feel that it is something that is really relevant and really current especially for this generation. I want people to love themselves and to accept themselves and its definitely not something that is easy. I think that for our characters in particular too, you know, Billy being the first Power Ranger who is on the spectrum, who is diagnosed with autism, I think that is also really huge too, we are definitely walking a path that hasn't been walked by many, or anyone actually. And I feel like they did it in a really natural way and us, as actors, are really precious with the decisions that we make for our characters because we want it to feel real and authentic. And especially for Trini in the beginning, its very subtle. You question is she, is she not? And I think she is questioning, you know, she doesn't even know. And just like anything in life, its a process and I think that is what is so exciting, is that is kind of building a new foundation for this character so it can go anywhere and feel like you are part of this process with her because you don't just wake up and know and accept to talk about it with people and I think as an actress that was a really proud moment that campfire scene that got everyone talking because thats when it got real. Thats when it felt like, here she is and she is really just finally dealing with these feelings that she has had bottled up and that maybe she was really scared to acknowledge.

Q: RJ, how do you feel about playing the first superhero with autism? -

It means a lot, man, its almost like I get the opportunity to learn something totally new, right, and so that excites me just in general. But also I got to show a true perspective of that viewpoint of someone that is on the spectrum. There's a lot of, we are all affected by it in some way, right, and we all have these different ways that we think it works or how we think that they think and we really don't know because we aren't in their shoes so its really cool to play a part that is honest to how people on the spectrum feel and it just connects with them in some way so its just like, yeah, any body can be a superhero if your on the spectrum or not on the spectrum or black, white, Puerto Rican, short, tall, its like, we're human beings.

Q: How do your characters fit into the plot? -

RJ "I play Billy Cranston, he's this, well, he's the blue Power Ranger obviously but, he's like this whole-hearted kid, he is socially awkward and he doesn't really know how to make friends but he takes that chance to make friends because he finds other people that, you know, from an outside perspective, they relate to him a little bit. They all met in detention so its like, you know, if I can trust anybody it must be these people and that was really cool to be able to play a character that was so opposite of me in high school and he is just like, almost like a..." Becky G "He is the glue that holds all of us together" RJ "Well I don't know about the glue, all of us are, Zordon is the glue, we are all pieces that are, you know." Becky G "You are. Like you said, he is whole-hearted, he is like the heart of the group, a lot of us, I think, are just trying to find our purpose in life and in where we belong and I think that Billy, more than anyone, he was the one that was actually searching to be a part of something. Especially my character, Trini, she hates everyone at the beginning of the movie and at first she kind of feels it is an inconvenience and then she realizes that she is exactly where she is supposed to be. But if there is anyone that didn't dip their toe in the water but cannon-balled right in, it was Billy. He is fearless in that sense. I think that for Trini, who is the yellow power ranger, she is definitely embarking on this journey of self discovery in this movie, I think all the characters are, but especially her. She's dealing with some identity issues and she is kind of confused about her self and who she is and where she belongs and she's a loner but she owns it and she's kind of to stubborn to admit that she needs people. I think she realizes it, as Zordon says, "you must shed your mask to wear this armor," and for her she applied it as in, you know, I need to accept myself for who I am first and love that about me before I can discover what true happiness is."