Constable: American Girl model from Arlington Heights morphs into Power Ranger
Facing numerous possibilities for life after high school, Jacqueline Scislowski of Arlington Heights was sure of one thing.
"I was going to get yellow for my dorm room. I always loved the color yellow," the 18-year-old says.
Instead of buying yellow bath towels to match a yellow comforter for her college dorm room, Scislowski is spending part of a gap year in New Zealand, where she plays the Yellow Power Ranger in "Power Rangers Beast Morphers," the 26th and 27th seasons of the iconic worldwide television series, which debuts soon on Nickelodeon.
"I prepared so hard for it that everything I hoped would happen happened," Scislowski says during a recent filming break that allows her to spend time in the Arlington Heights house of parents Robert and Kinga Scislowski, where she and her older brother, Matthew, grew up.
As a kid, Scislowski did gymnastics and played travel soccer, was a dancer at Buffalo Grove High School and in a hip-hop dance company, and always stayed fit. It wasn't until she was taking six months of stunt classes with Mike Chat, who once played the Blue Power Ranger, that she got her Power Ranger skills.
"I'd never thrown a punch with my noodle arms," says the teen, who had to choreograph 45 seconds of "jumping, screaming and kicking" as part of her audition for the part. "I worked out three times a day."
She started modeling and acting at age 3, after a stranger at a swimming pool suggested that her mother contact some people in that field.
"The earliest thing I remember is a Crate & Barrel holiday commercial," says Scislowski, who also appeared in print ads for companies such as Kohl's and in a host of movies created by Columbia College film students.
"I got to do horror movies, and I played the mean girl and the cheerleaders," says Scislowski, whose wavy blonde hair put her in demand. One of her highlights came when she was 10 and graced the cover of American Girl magazine. Even before she was old enough to play mean girls and cheerleaders, Scislowski says she loved acting enough to put up with all the hassles.
"We had to drive all the way to Indiana in the middle of the winter," Scislowski says of one of her early roles in "Marlin," a student's film, when she was 6 years old. "I was wearing red onesie pajamas with the little butt flap. I got paid in Skittles."
She worked from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m. the next day, while her mom kept watch.
"I was always there," says Kinga Scislowski, who notes that her daughter operated by an unwavering moral code, even changing words in her script to avoid swearing.
"I'd say, 'Darn!'" Jacqueline Scislowski remembers.
Her Power Rangers gig is the first time Scislowski has acted without her mother at her side. The pair even moved to Los Angeles during 8th grade and again for her senior year of high school to be available for auditions.
She landed a part as "girl with tangled hair" in a TV infomercial, played Student No. 2 in the 2013 "Man of Steel" movie and played a Foley Daughter No. 1 in a 2014 episode of TV's "Criminal Minds."
"I was crying in the background because my mother had rabies," Scislowski says of her role.
Last year, she had a much larger role in the action movie "The End of the World," now available on demand. "I got to do my own stunts," Scislowski says, smiling at the notion of being a 5-foot-5, 120-pound actor who can be her own wonder woman. She does the fight scenes in her role as Zoey Reeves, the Yellow Power Ranger. A favorite at last year's Morphocon gathering of everything Power Ranger, Scislowski gives her fans glimpses into her life, including her childhood, through her @jackiescislowski Instagram account.
"We always tried to make sure she could balance the disappointments and still be a kid," says her father, Robert Scislowski, who treated acting the same as soccer. "This is just another sport."
She flies back to Auckland on Monday to shoot her second season of the series. She's got other projects, including a movie where she plays the mean girl, and another where she has a lead role. She's hoping her work as a Power Ranger leads to parts in TV shows and films.
"My dream role," Scislowski says, envisioning a twist on the action series that starred Matt Damon, "is Jason Bourne."