*TNT’s “Claws” is a look at the life and crimes of five women who work at a Florida nail salon. The 10 episode series is set to premiere June 11, and the network has announced that the premiere will also be streamed on Twitter.
Rashida Jones serves as an executive producer on the series, which features Niecy Nash, Harold Perrineau and Karrueche Tran. Nash stars as Desna, the owner of the Nail Artisans of Manatee County. She lives with and cares for her mentally ill brother, Dean (Perrineau). Her employees include Virginia (Tran) who is openly bored with her job.
As L.A. Times previosuly reported, series creator Eliot Laurence has long been fascinated with the culture of nail salons and the interactions between the artists and their clients. Executive producer Janine Sherman Barrois (“Criminal Minds”) describes “Claws” as “Florida noir,” the crime genre popularized by Carl Hiaasen (“Bad Monkey”) and Jeff Lindsay, author of the “Dexter” novels.
EUR/Electronic Urban Report chopped it up with Karrueche Tran ahead of the series premiere — during the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour earlier this year. She described Virginia as “sassy and full of attitude” and noted that her own nails “are very plain and basic for what Virginia usually wears.”
“Virginia is very over-trendy and her nails on the show show it. They’re neon green; they glow in the dark; they’re pointy. It’s a lot of this going on,” she says
“She is not like myself, so I was able to — one thing I really love is I was able to create a character from Virginia. So, if you see some of the images, I am wearing a Kangol hat, a netted shirt, booty shorts, socks, and slides. Just so ridiculous, but just so Virginia.”
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The actress and model initially gained mainstream exposure as the girlfriend of R&B singer Chris Brown. From 2013 to 2016, Tran starred as Vivian Johnson in the web series “The Bay,” a 2016 Daytime Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Digital Daytime Drama Series
While Tran has been on “plenty of auditions,” she says for the first time in her short career as an actor, working on “Claws” allowed her to fully “express myself as an actor.”
“Sometimes it brings me to tears because I’m a part of the TNT family now,” Tran says. “Because I’m on the path of growing my acting career, every project is an experience. But this project — everything from the table read, the network and producers, watching Niecy and the other girls on set, and the way they moved and the questions they asked — I never had that experience before. Just knowing the actors life, I kinda instilled in my brain for the future.”
While Virginia may be all things sassy, Tran also describes her as “the oddball out of the group,” who’s longing for love.
“One thing about Virginia is she’s had a rough upbringing and she’s mastered doing whatever she needs to do to get whatever it is that she wants. And you soon find out that Virginia’s just a girl that wants to be loved — wants to be a part of a family because growing up she missed that part of life, having a family. She just wants love, and not looking for love as in a partner, but just the essence of love. Of feeling a part of something, feeling like you’re belonging to a group.” she explains.
Continuing, “She looks at these four women — they’re all so individually different. They all come from different backgrounds but their connection and their bond is so strong. And you can see that, and Virginia can see that as well and she wants that. She didn’t have the best mother growing up. She didn’t have other females growing up. She had to sleep her way… she’s an ex-stripper. So seeing those women and wanting that bond. She’s a little girl, she’s still young, so just wanting that, whatever that is. A belonging I guess you could say.”
Tran didn’t find it necessary to add a bit of her own persona into Virginia, but she believes viewers will be relate to the character because “every girl wants to be loved and wants to be a part of something.”
“One thing that I love about Virginia as a character is, I’ve done a few projects where it’s just kinda… just me. Kinda just, the girl next door. Virginia, I can really create and really become her. She has so many elements. Her rough upbringing is why she acts the way she does. She’s a little nasty. I can live out that side of my life that I’m usually not. She’s such a character in herself that I love that I’m able to create that.”
When asked what about this role really intrigued her to want to be a part of this project, Tran broke it down like this:
“I got an audition from my agency and the first time I went in I messed up a little bit and I kept forgetting my lines, and I was like, “Man, I don’t think I got it.” And then I got a call back and then I got a network call back and then Niecy called me and I was like, “Holy sh*t! I think this is really happening.” I’ve been on plenty of auditions but to actually really get it was like, “Oh my god. This is amazing!” Reading the pilot was so interesting and then being able to create Virginia, something so different from what I’ve done before, was just like, now I feel like I can express myself as an actor. ”
Set in Palmetto, Florida, “Claws” is mostly filmed in New Orleans, but during TCA, series regular Jack Kesy noted that “one of the big inspirations for this show was the literary genre that is Florida noir and that underbelly and these really different types of people kind of bumping together and not really melding. And humor. There’s so much humor coming out the Florida. I don’t know what happened, but just the news stories that come out of that state.”
“Claws” is a pitch black, wickedly funny meditation on female badness, and Niecy Nash leads a talent group of women who are ready to cut you to the bone.
“The one thing about this show, because there’s five very diverse women, all have their own struggles, is that people can, especially women, can relate and can take from that,” Train says. “I’m pretty sure there’s millions of girls who maybe grew up in a rough circumstance and want the same feeling of love. The show is about five women that are so empowered and strong and I think the viewers would definitely have some sort of connection at least with one of these characters.”
Tune into “Claws” Sunday, June 11 at 9/8c on TNT.