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The Red Ranger: Little did Stephen Cardenas know that he would have a place in pop culture

Martial artist Stephen Cardenas rose to fame as the Red Ranger in the TV series “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”

Martial artist Stephen Cardenas rose to fame as the Red Ranger in the TV series “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Stephen Cardenas didn’t want to be an actor.

Yet, with his only gig acting, he has a place in pop culture as Rock DeSantos or The Red Ranger in “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”

“I never wanted to be an actor,” he says during a recent phone interview. “When I auditioned for the gig, they were looking for someone who was trained in martial arts.”

Cardenas got the role in the TV series in 1993. The show has morphed into various spin-offs, and with the addition of Netflix streaming the show, there is a new generation discovering it.

With that, Cardenas has found a new way to inspire children.

“I own a martial arts studio and continue to practice that part of it,” he says. “What’s new for me is going to these conventions and meeting the people. I really didn’t realize the impact the show had on people.”

Cardenas is going to be one of the many guests at Albuquerque Comic Con. The event features comic artists, celebrities and more. This will mark the first time he’s visited the Duke City, but not his first convention.

“I started doing conventions in 2007 after this big Power Ranger convention,” he says. “This year, I’ve started doing them pretty full time. I’ve got a lot of dates lined up for this year and I may be going to Brazil for a convention. It’s an entirely new world I didn’t know existed.”

After only one audition ever, Cardenas is embracing the fact that he’s a cult icon now associated with the TV series.

“I had a blast when we were doing the show,” he says. “It was a lot of hard work because I didn’t have that acting background. I learned a lot on the set and was able to grow as an actor and as a martial artist. It’s something I’m grateful for and I’ll continue to embrace it.”