*Well look who has gone and gotten all grown up. Naturi Naughton has segued nicely from her roots as a teen singer in 3LW to an actress whose work on Broadway (“Hairspray”), film (“Notorious”) and now TV (“Power”) has not only kept her busy, but has garnered her respect in an industry that doesn’t give it easily.
In an interview with Shadow and Act, Naughton shares the vicissitudes of her climb in the business of entertainment; and tells how doing the Broadway play, “Hairspray,” for three years right after the public breakup of 3LW helped her segue into acting. Obviously, she was quite good, because while doing the role, she booked the part of Lil’ Kim in her first film role, “Notorious.”
Naturi Naughton: I was working for about three years on the show Hairspray on Broadway, which helped me transition into acting because it’s musical theater, where I’m singing and dancing and acting and learning how to think on my feet. When I booked Hairspray I really didn’t have a support system other than my family and friends. So after 3LW, doing Hairspray really launched me into a position in New York where I was getting recognized and then got an agent. And then I booked Notorious as well, while I was doing the show.
…But it wasn’t easy. For my first role, I had to audition five times. I’ve gotten a lot of no’s and rejections. But I just had to keep working hard. I took classes, I worked on my craft and continued to work with an acting coach and just didn’t give up on myself.
Now Naughton has been tapped to co-star in the upcoming Starz TV series, “Power,” a show created by rapper/actor/businessman, 50 Cent. She plays the wife of a druglord named Ghost, played by Omari Hardwick and from her description, her role sounds like a juicy one.
NN: Tasha St. Patrick, she’s crazy. She really is Ghost’s sidekick, the other half of Bonnie and Clyde. She came up from the streets, grew up in Queens, and had a rough life. She had desires to be a singer but those desires got cut short because she was pregnant at 19 with Ghost’s child. He’s trying to choose between going legit and staying in the drug game, and she’s pretty much the woman who’s like look, we’ve built this empire together, I’ll ride with you to the end. She’ll throw the gun away, she’ll tell you how to dump the body. She’s an edgy character and not afraid to do whatever it takes to keep the family together.
She speaks highly of the two men associated with the show; recalling Hardwick as a friend that she trusts and has shared a relationship of mutual respect in the business for years, and 50 as a giving person who is full of life.
NN on Omari Hardwick: Omari’s been great. We were friends in the industry before Power. He actually helped give me the Rising Star Award at PVIFF, and we did a panel together. So we’ve always respected each other’s work, and finally here we are. He’s a big brother to me on set in a way, even though he plays my husband. We trust each other and tell each other like it is. Having him as a partner as the power couple of the show has been amazing.
NN on 50 Cent: Oh my gosh, he’s a joy and just full of life. He brings a very grounded, real side to the production. One day we were getting hair and makeup touched up and he was saying don’t ever underestimate what you can do. Because he was talking about different ventures of his and where he came from, just the come-up for him and his journey. He just said don’t sell yourself short, think outside the box.
I was telling him one of my aspirations is to direct as well. I love to write, music and poetry. So I think from watching his versatility and listening to his ability to see things in that way, it taught me that no matter where you’re from, no matter what people say you can do, you can achieve your dreams as long as you think outside the box, do the work and be willing to move forward.
Naughton also shares her desire to direct in the future, and is grateful to have been able to shadow actress , Regina King, as she prepared for her directorial debut in the TV movie, “Let The Church Say Amen.”
NN: I haven’t directed yet. But one actress that I’m really inspired by in her directorial debut, is Regina King and Let The Church Say Amen. I shadowed her and watched her because she knows my desire to do other things. She was so giving in letting me ask questions about what it takes to be a director, and so I was really honored to work with Regina in that way.
Naughton has a starring role in the movie as well.
NN: The character that I play is one of the central characters in the book Let The Church Say Amen, Rachel. She’s a little ratchet, a girl from ATL. She has a child and is definitely struggling from being a girl from the church and trying to be a woman of the world. And I think you can’t do both. Having a family from the church and the pressures and dysfunction within that are hard for my character. She rebels, but eventually she realizes that her foundation is always going to be there.
Visit the Shadow and Act website to read more of Naturi Naughton’s illuminating interview with Jai Tiggett.