What Are You Up To Now? is a recurring Pop Culture feature designed to check in on actors from our (and your) favorite movies and TV shows from back in the day that haven't been heard from in awhile. What's that guy from that show on ABC doing these days? Now, we bring you the answer.
If you grew up in the early '90s [and had good taste in adolescent TV] then you grew up with Amy Jo Johnson. Even 21 years later, all it takes is one look at Johnson, still the spitting image of her 23-year-old self, to bring in a tidal wave of Saturday morning memories from her days of beating up Putty Monsters, piloting robots and taking orders from a floating head in a tube, all while wearing a bright pink tights along with her four equally vibrantly dressed friends. Fast forward two decades though and Kimberly the Pink Ranger has matured quite nicely, transitioning from '90s nostalgia totem (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) to teen show guest star staple (Felicity, Wildfire) and to now, a quietly emerging writer-director.
We caught up with Amy Jo to both reflect on the past and look to the future, which includes her first stab at a feature length effort, The Space Between. Read on to see if she'd ever be down for more Power Rangers, and after you've finished, find out more about how to contribute to her new movie here.
What's your fondest memory from Power Rangers?
My fondest memory of Power Rangers was just being a kid and hanging out with the cast and crew. We had such a great time on and off set. We were like a family. Lots of very fun parties and laughs.
Do you still talk to anyone from the cast? Specifically Tommy or Jason?
I talk to David Yost [Billy the Blue Ranger] quite frequently. He’s one of my best friends. I have spoken with JDF [Jason David Frank, Tommy] in the last few years and am very proud of him and his new reality TV show. He’s a hard worker, that guy.
You once said you think you'll never live the Pink Ranger down and that the role/experience gave you nightmares? Do you still feel that way? What's fan interaction like these days?
First of all, what gave me nightmares was the tens of thousands of people who showed up to our first performance at Universal Amphitheater the week the show launched on TV. I had never performed in front of so many people and that gave me nightmares. As for saying I’ll never live the Pink Ranger down, not sure when I ever said that, [ed. note: it was a comment, made jokingly in her appearance on I Love the 90s] but if I had it was probably referring to the fact that it did take quite some time after leaving PR to get my next job. I needed to prove to the casting community at that time that I could act and be more than that role. I did jump into many classes and plays for a few years before I landed my next acting job, which was a movie of the week on NBC called Killing Mr. Griffin. At this point in my life I embrace and love the fact that PR was my first job and am blown away by how many people grew up with this show and still love it.
Between Felicity, Wildfire, Susie Q and Power Rangers, you've been in a lot of influential teen programming. What's your favorite teen show, maybe one you wish you would've been a part of?
I’ve enjoyed each role I’ve played for different reasons and cherish the memories I have of each experience. For me growing up the show/movies that influenced me as a teen were all those amazing John Hughes films. I could still watch Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Some Kind Of Wonderful, and Pretty In Pink over and over again. What a brilliant talent that man has.
A lot of actors who originate on kids/teen shows get trapped in that arena. How'd you transition out of the teen sphere into more serious roles?
I think I just grew up. At a certain point I’m just not a kid anymore. But boy did I ride that out! I was 28 years old when I played Julie Emrick on Felicity. Love that!!
Tell me about The Space Between.
The Space Between is a heartfelt comedy about a man who discovers that his child is not his own, and that his wife had taken his infertility into her own hands by sleeping with the bus boy at her job. The film will dive into many hard topics but will explore the levity that lies between those painful feelings.
You've directed two shorts before but this will be your first feature length. How do you think the experience will differ?
Well, we actually shoot the film in June 2015. And I think the hardest part will be being away from my daughter for 17 days. Shooting a short film only takes a few days of shooting, but a feature will be MUCH more intense and since I am the director I’ll be on set 100% of the time.
Do you see yourself opting for behind the camera in lieu of in front of it, and retiring from acting in the coming years?
Yes, I do. I feel more comfortable behind the camera for some reason. I think it’s where I was meant to be. The 20 years I spent in front of the camera has been the best training ground on so many levels for me. I do still enjoy acting, but my heart is in writing and directing.
Your previous films, Bent and Lines, focused more on women protagonists and female-driven stories. What inspired the change in narrative perspective?
It just happened during the writing process. Michael Cram who plays Mitch, the lead character, was in my brain while writing The Space Between and his character just jumped off the page for me. So I went with that and followed his story and Mitch became the main character within that process.
What types of roles do you gravitate towards these days? Is it reasonable to assume you choose roles like the badasses on Flashpoint or Covert Affairs as a way to rebrand from the girl-next-door characters you played in your youth?
Honestly, Flashpoint and my role on Covert Affairs just appeared to me. I didn’t seek out those roles. So, I think that this is naturally where my career has headed.
Did you hear about Hollywood's plans to reboot Power Rangers with a movie franchise? What are your thoughts? Would you ever consider a cameo appearance if approached?
I did hear about this and would absolutely do a cameo in these films if I were asked. What fun would that be!