*Most of us were introduced to Naturi Naughton as 1/3 of the trio 3LW. The New Jersey native has since transitioned into the world of acting, landing roles in movies like ‘Notorious’ and ‘Lottery Ticket’, along with TV gigs such as ‘The Playboy club’ and ‘The Client List’.
Recently, media partner theJasmineBRANd.com chatted with her about playing Lil Kim in her first acting role, the challenges women of color face in Hollywood and her love life (yep, she has a man!). Peep a few excerpts:
How she felt about the criticism Meagan Good received for her BET Awards dress:
Honestly, I think that she is beautiful. I’ve always thought we have good bodies, why not work it while we can and while we’re young. I didn’t see any major harm, it doesn’t show any defaming thing for her character. It shows that she felt like wearing that dress that day. I think as long as you are confident and hold your self with class, I think you can do that and I applaud her for doing what she feels.
If she feels that the climate for black women in Hollywood is improving:
It’s really challenging. I feel like things are starting to be hopeful but there so much further to go as black actors and actresses in the industry. It gets frustrating at times; it’s hard I’m not gonna lie I’m like, ‘Can we please get more than one role per year?’
Feelings about the Zimmerman verdict:
It has made me feel a sense of frustration with this justice system, with this country, with this whole situation. I just want to send out a message of hope, a message of love to Trayvon Martin’s family. Its been so hard for me because, I feel like that could have been my little brother.
Visit theJasmineBRAND.com to find the inside scoop on her boyfriend (who is in the industry), if she ever spoke to rapper Lil Kim (after she criticized her in ‘Notorious’) and more!
*Turns out “The Playboy Club” wasn’t as inviting as NBC thought it would be.
The premiere bombed, according to Nielsen, attracting just five million viewers and finishing last in its timeslot.
Vanity Fair contacted a former Playboy bunny, Marilyn Miller, for her thoughts. “I’m so disappointed,” she wrote. “None of those things happened. They did a wonderful job re-creating the club physically, but everything else….”
She elaborated, “I thought it was cheap, it was degrading, it was demoralizing. It makes the Bunnies seem silly. You didn’t have time to stand around and flirt with the customers or talk to the other Bunnies or run around and get in trouble or have a smoke in the back alley. You were so busy. You worked!”
And, she concluded, “Not one Bunny I know liked the show. Everyone is hoping it gets canceled.”
The show co-stars Naturi Naughton as Brenda, the club’s first “chocolate Bunny,” and Jenifer Lewis as Pearl, the seamstress who fancies herself “mother hen” to the Bunnies.
*Tika Sumpter, Naturi Naughton and Rutina Wesley got a 70s makeover and are definitely looking fierce and fab.
In a spread in the October issue of Essence, the ladies are dressed in the era’s revolutionary style clothing, representing the Black queen of the “Black and Proud” and Foxy Brown days.
Tika rocks a full Afro, while Naturi and Rutina don wavier locks.
A glossy pic of all three is frame-worthy with its fur collars, raspberry lips and focus on the three gorgeous, dark chocolate beauties – something you don’t see much of these days, says blogger Kimberly Walker at BET.com.
Naturi Naughton attends Fashion's Night Out with NBC on Sept. 8, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.
*The hype is now over.
After a summer full of reservations from TV critics over its misogynistic vibe, from parents groups over the sexual content implied by its title, from an NBC affiliate in Utah who refuses to even air the program, and from women’s rights icon Gloria Steinem who called for a boycott of the show, “The Playboy Club” will at last have its series premiere on Monday (Sept. 19) at 10 p.m.
Cast member Naturi Naughton, who plays the club’s first black Bunny, says she’s ready for viewers to finally see the show for themselves and reach their own conclusions.
“The thing that all [protesting] organizations should know is that our show really is following the standards of the network,” Naughton tells EURweb. “It’s not like NBC is breaking some mold and putting on some nudity or anything disparaging or extremely risqué.
“Hopefully everyone who’s making opinionated comments will be informed and know that our show, if anything, is mild and very much about these women and character-driven.”
Naturi Naughton as Bunny Brenda in "The Playboy Club"
Set in 1963, “The Playboy Club” follows the interaction between workers and customers of Hugh Hefner’s historic venue in Chicago, known as much for its defiant racial integration as it was for the scantily-clad, bushy-tailed bunnies who served the clientele.
Naughton’s character, Bunny Brenda, wants to become a real estate entrepreneur and saves her tips to someday buy a building. But as an African-American working at a time when the civil rights and women’s rights movements were in its beginning stages, Brenda will be shown facing tremendous odds in reaching her dream. Resistance also comes from her religious family members, who can’t stand that she’s a bunny.
Naughton’s own family, on the other hand, couldn’t be more supportive of her role – the latest in a long journey for the 27-year-old who started as a singer with 3LW before moving into acting, including a role as Lil Kim in “Notorious” and a three-year stint in Broadway’s “Hairspray,” also set in the 60s.
Naturi Naughton as Mad Men's Playboy Bunny
Naturi became one of a handful of black actors – and by handful, we mean three people – to have scored a speaking role on AMC’s critically-acclaimed drama “Mad Men,” where she ironically portrayed a Playboy Bunny working at Hefner’s New York club in the 60s.
Although she was born in 1984, the 60s are a recurring theme in Naughton’s career. In the bonus audio below, she explains how her multiple roles in the time period, mixed with anecdotes from her own parents, give her a sense that she’s been there before.