Vietnamese Refugee

Thuy Trang was born on December 14, 1973 in South Vietnam. Her father served in the Vietnam War and fled to the U.S. after the fall of Saigon for political asylum. Being unable to follow, his entire family -- wife, two sons and two daughters -- were stranded behind.

In 1979, Thuy and her family boarded upon a cargo ship with hundreds of refugees. It was risky, but for the survivors of post-war Vietnam, the hope of starting life anew was worth the chance. Before heading to America, they first sailed to Hong Kong's detention camps.

Thuy almost didn't make it. Like many kids in Vietnam, she was frail and sickly. Other passengers urged Thuy's mother to toss the little girl overboard to make room for other passengers who were more likely to survive such a perilous journey across the Pacific Ocean.

"It's strange to witness how ugly our human race can become in desperate situations."

Mrs. Trang refused and fought for Thuy's life by force-feeding her 6-year-old daughter while she was unconscious, and by providing Thuy with what little food and water was given. She was just too precious to give up on.

After having survived the harsh lifestyle in the Hong Kong camps, Thuy and her family finally arrived safely in America in 1980. It was a joyous family reunion.

"As a little girl, I believed that he was out there and I never gave up hope. I guess what they say is true, 'Believe in your dreams and they will become reality.' Mine did!"

Engineer Student

Thuy had grown up as a Vietnamese refugee in the United States, but like most young immigrants, she managed to adapt to the new language and culture. Although Thuy missed her extended family back home in Vietnam, she was happy in her new homeland.

Thuy was proud of her multicultural heritage. Her ethnic background consisted of Vietnamese, Chinese, and French nationalities. She was fluent in Vietnamese and Cantonese, and could speak some French. Thuy spoke perfect English with a slight accent.

Thuy was a smartie as well. She graduated from Banning High School earning a scholarship to study civil engineering at UC Irvine.

"My dad was an engineer. My sister graduated with an engineering degree at UCLA, and then my brother went to UCLA for engineering. So it was just a pattern -- Thuy has to go into engineering."

It seemed like Thuy was destined to continue in her family's footsteps until she was discovered by a Hollywood agent, and the rest is history.

Photo of Thuy Trang and Amy Jo Johnson by Bruce Heinsius

Power Ranger

Thuy's first and best known role was that of Trini Kwan, the original Yellow Ranger on Saban's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Like her fellow Rangers, she became an international role model for youths. Thuy was also a pioneer for Asian women on television and provided much-needed representation in the mid-90s.

"We should all be responsible for what we're doing on TV, in films and publications. Each one of us has to take responsibility for reality, and present it so that kids will grow up familiar with that and say, 'Okay. I know that. I've seen that before. I'm not afraid of it. That's cool.'"

When asked, "What hobbies do you like?" from a little kid on the MMPR High Five video, Thuy replied practicing martial arts and collecting dolls. Was she answering as Trini? Possibly. Their characters were developed partially from the actors who portrayed them. But Thuy was an accomplished martial artist in shaolin kung fu. Ultimately, her martial arts background was the edge she had in auditioning to become a Power Ranger.

Contract disputes led to Thuy's departure from the series in the second season along with a couple of her co-stars. She went on to do a few other roles, but none garnered her the same attention as Power Rangers.

"I love the kids. That was the hardest part about leaving the show."

Bridesmaid

As luck would have it, Thuy Trang was connected to fellow Vietnamese-American actor, Dustin Nguyen, via friend Angela Rockwood. Dustin had made a name for himself in roles on 21 Jump Street and Pamela Anderson's V.I.P.. Thuy was to have been one of the bridesmaids at their wedding. Unfortunately, that wedding had to be postponed.

On September 3, 2001, travelling with Angela and another member of the bridal party, the car Thuy was a passenger in collided with another vehicle. Angela was ejected from the car and became a quadriplegic. Thuy Trang did not survive her injuries.

The cast of Push Girls, including Angela Rockwood, live-tweeted during its season 2 finale in 2013. We asked if there was anything she'd like for us to retweet. Her response: