Playing the Blue Power Ranger was the breakthrough moment in David Yost's career. Billy Cranston, one of the original "teenagers with attitude," was the brains of the group, inventing gadgets like the wrist communicators. Yost, along with Walter Jones, the first Black Power Ranger from the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers series, will be in town this weekend at the Comic and Pop Expo. We chatted with him on what it's really like having people pay for your autograph, coming out as gay, and playing a ass-kicking hero on children's television.
You've done Comic Cons and Expos before, what is it actually like?
Honestly I try not to process it, because if I do it's really awkward. We go to these cons and we sign autographs and sit on panels, where people will stand up and say things like, "you guys are iconic, icons." The fact that people think that me as a person, or my costars, are icons ... it's hard to even understand what that means. People will come up to you and they will hug you and they will cry. I try to reassure them that I'm just like them and that I'm grateful they want to take a picture with me and I'm grateful that my autograph means something to them.
When you signed on to wear the suit in the early '90s, would you have guessed you'd still be wearing it today? I don't think any of us really knew what it would become or how successful it would be. For me it was the first thing I landed after moving to L.A. and I thought it would be a stepping stone to some other stuff. But we filmed an entire season and when it aired it went straight to number one children's programming.
What was like to be a children's television star? As the years have gone, I've heard the stories people tell me about how the Rangers influenced them. My character encouraged people to become technical, scientific people.
Which was different than what the other characters inspired in kids. My character tried in every circumstance to use his mind, his brain, before resorting to brawn. But when the world was under attack, I had to always step up to attack like the other Rangers. While the other characters primarily inspired kids to take up martial arts or something, I might have a different fan base. Which, really, would be the people that attend comic cons.
When you left the Power Rangers, you struggled with the decision to come out as gay. Can we talk a little about that? I think it's still difficult in 2014 to be an out and open gay actor. Obviously we are making strides in the U.S. for our rights, but in Hollywood a lot of people still consider it career suicide. There was a period of time when that's all anybody was talking about and even today if you Google me, that's probably one of the first things that comes up: He was a Power Ranger and he came out as gay. It was a difficult decision to stop hiding it, but for me personally I couldn't live that way any more.
This weekend where can we catch you at the Dallas Comic and Pop Expo? I'll be signing autographs and taking pictures Saturday and Sunday. And I'll be part of a Power Rangers panel Sunday at 2 p.m.
If you're too old or young for the Power Rangers, the Expo has a full roster of celebs and a schedule of fun activities, including Sci Fi Speed Dating and a panel on ghost hunting. The event kicks off Friday at the DoubleTree Hotel in Richardson with a karaoke night hosted by Nicholas Brendan, more commonly known as Xander from Buffy.