Fong, who is of Korean and Chinese descent, landed the role of the Pink Ranger on the Nickelodeon show, which premiered Feb. 7. Now the actress is smitten with her new home in New Zealand, where the series is being filmed, and the color pink.
“I will be honest pink wasn’t always my favorite color, but it is definitely growing on me,” Fong said from New Zealand where she is busy filming with the other four Power Rangers. “I find myself gravitating to pink items when I shop just because I wear it everyday on set.”
Born and raised in Minnesota, Fong moved to Los Angeles, Calif. in 2004 at the age of 17. Fluent in Korean and Cantonese, Fong had a huge culture shock when she arrived at California’s Venice High School with a heavy Minnesotan accent.
But she was determined to pursue her Hollywood dreams. The actress was busy balancing auditions, her full-time college schedule and caring for her two younger sisters. Her big break came when she landed the role of Mia, the Pink Ranger who relies on her turtle animal Zord.
She is now one of five Power Rangers who team up to fight evil villains on “Power Rangers Samurai,” which is produced by Saban Brands. The Pacific Citizen caught up with Fong to find out how she’s dealing with her new success and Pink Ranger super powers.
How did you land the role of Mia, the “big sister” to the Power Rangers?
Erika Fong: I auditioned for the role of Mia a few months before I got it. It was a long process and took many call backs to get it. I remember the day of our final call back. They had me stay behind after everyone had left to also read for the role of Emily, the Yellow Ranger. I was the only Asian American going for the role of Mia against many other beautiful ethnicities, and I was proud to represent being the only Asian American there to go for her role. Just days later, when I found out that I got the role, my mother cried and I screamed, ‘I’m moving to New Zealand!’ It’s honestly been one of the best experiences of my life.
How is New Zealand? I understand you’ll wrap up filming there this month.
Fong: I have officially fallen in love with New Zealand and feel so blessed and grateful to be working in such a beautiful country. The people here are incredibly humble and down to earth.
How much of the Pink Ranger’s stunt work do you perform?
Fong: When I first moved to New Zealand, we went straight into stunt training on the second day of our arrival. We were trained by the best Japanese stunt men and women, who have been with Power Rangers all the way back since Mighty Morphin. I remember not being able to move just after the first week, but they whipped us into shape. I was raised learning Tae Kwon Do by my stepfather, who is an eighth degree black belt. It definitely has helped me in many ways.
Were you always a “Power Rangers” fan?
Fong: I was a huge fan of Power Rangers before taking the role. I remember getting off the bus from grade school and I just couldn’t miss the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” Kimberly, the Pink Ranger, was my favorite of course! But I specifically remember watching Mighty Morphin, while eating a snack, and doing homework. It was the highlight of my evenings at that age. It’s quite surreal now and I would have never imagined at that age that it was possible for me to be the Pink “Power Ranger Samurai” someday.
Have you always dreamed of a career in showbiz?
Fong: I always knew I wanted to be involved in film or anything arts related where I could express myself. I’ve had a love for film all my life and knew I had a special appreciation for film at a really young age.
I was the kid that wasn’t allowed to rent the new releases, but we always had family movie nights with some type of interesting film nobody had ever heard of. A night out at the movies with the family would be at an old vintage theater watching a classic Alfred Hitchcock flick. I ended up going to school for fashion and art at FIDM in Los Angeles while aspiring to be an actress as well.
The “Power Rangers Samurai” cast seems to get along really well. Can you share with me any funny behind-the-scenes moments?
Fong: One of the other cast members Brittany Pirtle, the Yellow Ranger, and I were both in this intense scene where she gets hit and is badly hurt. I was running to her and I found myself so immersed in the scene that I thought it was so real. When I was supposed to scream her character’s name, Emily, I screamed ‘Brittany!!!’ and kept running to her and didn’t even realize it. Yeah, that was quite funny.
What are some of the Pink Ranger’s abilities/gadgets that you wish you could have?
Fong: Pink Ranger Mia has the ability to control the wind with her airway control. I think it would be pretty amazing to control the weather for any occasion you needed: perfect surf, a sunny day at the beach or a windy day to sail! One thing that Mia and I do share is our motherly characteristics. I have two younger sisters. And one thing that we do not share is that she is a terrible cook and I can actually cook up a feast.
When you’re not fighting villains on “Power Rangers Samurai,” how do you spend your time?
Fong: I’m such a sucker for sports. I love anything sports-related where I can be a huge tomboy at times. Football season, basketball season, baseball season and hockey — I love it all. I’ve recently just gotten really into rugby, living in New Zealand. I always enjoy being active, surfing, camping, hiking — pretty much anything outside related.
Music is another love of mine. I’ve been playing the piano since I was 5 years old and love to work on new pieces when I get the time. I love to travel and hope to explore as much of the world as I can in my lifetime. On my down time I enjoy sketching, painting, and sewing. I would love to create a line of my own someday. Of course [I also enjoy] having a night on the couch watching a really good film just by myself or with loved ones. I find myself to be such a family person. Taking time to spend with my family is so important to me.
Did you struggle much in your journey to become an actress?
Fong: I was 17 years old and moved to L.A. in the middle of my senior year of high school from Plymouth, Minn. to pursue my dreams. It was definitely a journey driving all the way. It wasn’t an easy move, but I needed to reach my dreams. Boy did I have a huge culture shock ahead of me.
I can only laugh about it now, but wow was that crazy. I struggled with auditions, while going to college full time, working and taking care of my sisters. It wasn’t easy getting so many “no’s” before a “yes,” but the thing is I never gave up. I refused to give up no matter who got in my way and told me I couldn’t do it. I believed. And soon enough things started to turn. I believe staying true to myself along the way has guided me. I remember promising myself eight years ago … to always remember where I was from, to always carry my values with me no matter where I went in life, and to always treat people the way I would want to be treated. I think it’s important to surround yourself with good people, friends and family. That’s what has kept me grounded in this industry.
Image and interview courtesy of Pacific Citizen