Naturi Naughton is the face behind many of your favorite characters: Kendra in The Client List, Brenda in The Playboy Club, Denise Dupree in Fame, and now Tasha St. Patrick in Power. She gave Cliché the scoop on what’s next for Tasha in season 2 of the Starz hit Power, what’s next for her musically, and so much more.
When Naughton received the call from her agent about the role of Tasha St. Patrick, she was very excited, to say the least. When she read the script for the first time, she said she fell in love with the character and the material. The show shoots in New York, which was something Naughton loved. After auditioning in L.A., getting a few callbacks, and performing a screen and chemistry test, the role was Naughton’s.
Tasha St. Patrick is clever, young, gorgeous, and committed to her family. She believes in the luxurious life she has and the husband she has it with. Tasha has been by her husband Ghost’s side for years, raising their three children together. This season, however, Tasha is getting stronger and more independent. She’s realizing that the life she has built may be in jeopardy, and her relationships on the show will shift and change. According to Naughton, “Tasha is getting more empowered. She’s becoming a dangerous weapon this season. Tasha is stronger than a lot of people might think.”
Naughton continued, “Tasha isn’t a character to underestimate. Her relationships are strained this year between her and her husband Ghost, played by Omari Hardwick. That relationship will start to become very divided and tense because she doesn’t know what’s going on. Why has Ghost changed so much? Why is he cheating on her? Why is he trying to abandon the life that they made together? Tasha is frightened, a little scared of losing her family, but she’s also like ‘I’m not about to let you take my life away and the life I helped you build.’”
We first got a glimpse of Naughton in the ‘90s when she sang alongside Adrienne Bailon and Kiely Williams in the group 3LW. With hits like “No More” and “Playas Gon’ Play,” the group was a favorite of ‘90s kids until Naughton’s departure in 2002. Naughton went on to do a stint on Broadway as Lil Inez in Hairspray and co-starred in the 2009 remake of Fame as Denise Dupree. Although she was singing steadily, the question of whether she’d given up on releasing more music of her own remained… until now.
“[3LW] is where it all started for me,” Naughton explained. “Music is my passion, and I am definitely going to be working on my own music, getting back into the studio, and writing. I’m just dibbling and dabbling back into recording again. One of my real passions is also to get back on Broadway and on the stage again. Fame was an opportunity to do that in a movie. Hairspray was one of the best experiences in my life.” She says the public will be hearing more about her music before the end of the year.
Naughton is also well-known for her role as Lil’ Kim in the film Notorious. The widely-discussed film starring Jamal Woodard as Biggie and Anthony Mackie as Tupac received mixed reviews from critics, but was beloved by most fans of the late rapper. There is often a pressure that comes with a role of this magnitude, especially when the person you are portraying is alive.
“I felt pressure when I first got the role from so many angles,” Naughton confessed. “I felt nervous and scared. I was really trying to deliver everything as accurately as possible, but I got so much support and love. The people who knew Tupac, Biggie, and Lil’ Kim—and those who were around in the ‘90s—were very supportive of my portrayal. I was proud to play the role of Lil’ Kim. I think she is a hip hop icon.”
As a film and TV actress, Naughton has starred alongside some of the greatest TV and film actors and actresses, including Ice Cube, Regina King, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jenifer Lewis, and Jenna Dewan Tatum, just to name a few. The ability to switch between mediums isn’t easy, but it is rewarding for Naughton.
“I’ve worked with some great people and I’m so grateful because I’ve had the opportunity to learn from people like Loretta Devine, Regina King, Angela Bassett, and Omari Hardwick,” said Naughton. “I have loved working in film. I genuinely love making movies. It is an interesting journey, but television is a lot of fun, too, because when you’re working in TV, you get a chance to grow with the character each week. I wouldn’t say I prefer one over the other, though. I am just as excited to make a movie as I am a TV show.”
Undoubtedly, there is a culture shift happening in TV that we have not seen yet in film; there seems to be a bigger appetite and eagerness for a more accurate depiction of the world we live in. Due to the successes of shows like Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder—which are both groundbreaking in their own right—we are witnessing the evolution of TV and its decision to offer entertaining and complex roles for both women and people of color. The stars of the aforementioned shows—and Gina Rodriguez, the star of Jane the Virgin—have echoed how important and refreshing it is to see themselves and people like them in these roles, and Naughton agrees.
“It’s so refreshing to see a reflection of what the world really looks like,” Naughton said. “It’s nice to see that there are characters of color, particularly black women, being portrayed as complex people. There’s so much great television and I’m on one of the great shows written by a black woman (Courtney Kemp Agboh) and I think it’s amazing. I also want it to be not about the trend of black people on television; I want it to be a longevity that continues to change the scope of the business and that people include us and include diversity throughout Hollywood.” We couldn’t agree more.
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Naturi Naughton Interview: Photography: Sailey Williams, Wardrobe Andre J Rose, Makeup: T. Cooper for RILASTIL, Hair: Nicola Augustine for Nicola Augustine Hair, Production Assistant: Magdalena Lazare