Most people remember Naturi Naughton as one-third of the early 2000′s R&B girl group 3LW.
But in the past few years, she’s added more acting credits to her resume that include AMC’s “Mad Men” and FXX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and as a regular on NBC’s short-lived “The Playboy Club.” It was her film debut as rapper Lil’ Kim in 2009′s “Notorious,” a biopic about ’90s rapper Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G. that got her noticed.
Now the 30-year-old has TV viewers wondering what she, as Tasha St. Patrick on Starz’s new series “Power,” will do next since discovering her once faithful husband James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) is dipping out on her. “Power” centers on the life of Ghost, a New York drug kingpin who’s hoping to go legit via a new hot nightclub he opened, a plan Tasha isn’t a fan of. The show is the brainchild of Courtney Kemp Agboh, who also gets insight from co-executive producer Curtis Jackson, also known as hip-hop mogul 50 cent. The series was renewed for a second season soon after its June debut.
Naughton says that Tasha is “willing to fight for her man and fight for her marriage,” and referred to the couple as a black Bonnie and Clyde, something Tasha actually says on the show.
“That’s what’s so fun about playing a character like Tasha: she’s not the wife that’s been kept in the dark. You know a lot of times when shows have the big time drug kingpin, everybody’s like ‘does she even know that he’s [doing]?’ She actually helped Ghost build his drug empire. And she’s been an instrumental part of creating the world that they have together,” she explains.
In addition to “Power,” Naughton will star in “Let the Church Say Amen,”a BET film directed by Regina King that will debut next spring. She’s also in the studio working on her own original music.
“I think I will definitely have something at the top of the year and people will enjoy what I create because music is my passion. It always has been,” she shares.
XFINITY continues talking with Naughton about playing Tasha, why ride-or-die women are misunderstood and whether Tasha is capable of murder.
“Power’s” season finale airs Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on Starz. Catch up on previous episodes here.
What drew you to play Tasha?
I think it was her feisty spirit and fearlessness. She’s not one-dimensional; she has a crazy side where you get shocked at some of the things that she has done. But then you get to see a side of her being the wife and really loving her husband but her husband is growing further and further away from her. She’s really an interesting character. I think she’s vulnerable but she’s really strong. And I’m attracted to characters who have a lot of different sides because as an actress I get to play with them. She’s a ride-or-die [woman] and I love characters like that. She will fight for her family to death.
You mention ride-or-die. Do you think women who are considered ride-or-die are misunderstood?
I think people misinterpret or assume what ride-or-die looks like, talks like or sounds like. I think that it’s just about passion. At the end of the day you don’t have to be ignorant or “hood” or crazy. What I like about Tasha is even though she comes from the streets, she’s still very sophisticated and knows how to hold herself together. She has both sides. I think many ride-or-die people–both men and women–might have a little bit of edge to them but it doesn’t mean that they have to be one way. I think that you have to look at the person and the kind of passion they have and how they’re loyal. Loyalty can come in many shapes and forms. Michelle Obama is a ride-or-die chick but she’s smart and she’s classy. That’s what I think it’s about. At the end of the day we don’t have to see ride-or-die with a negative connotation.
What else can you tell us about Tasha? What can fans of the show expect?
There’s been little hints that Tasha has aspirations of being a singer and seeing her relationship with her mother (Debbi Morgan) and that damage. I’m excited to see how the writers will flesh out Tasha’s character in the second season. She’s a boss; she’s one of those people whose power you can never underestimate. She may seem like the wife who’s getting cheated on but she’s very, very powerful and has a lot of information. She’s definitely loyal to Ghost but you can expect her to do whatever it takes. She’s shown hints of her edgy and urban sides. I do think there’s going to be a little more of her gangster side that’s going to come out and I think that’ll be fun to play. But I think you may be scared of Tasha. She uses her sexuality and her beauty as a form of power. She knows that she’s a very strong, sensual, manipulative woman at times. Most of the flirting with the Shawn character (Sinqa Walls) has been manipulative and her using that relationship to try to get information. But eventually she’s going to do something with that information. So be aware; she can be very dangerous.
Dangerous? Is Tasha also capable of murder?
I’m still learning this character. I want to ask [show runner Courtney Kemp Agboh] that. I think she’s capable of a lot of things but I think she’s more bark. She’s more likely to bark about murder than to actually pull the trigger. She will definitely hold the gun and make you think she will pull the trigger but a part of her is a little bit softer than she appears. I’m actually curious to discover what she can do. Hopefully[he's not capable of murder]. She does have a lot of sides to her.
Which character would you say Tasha’s most alike?
If I had to say who she’s most alike, it would be [Ghost's best friend/ business partner] Tommy (Joseph Sikora). She’s mentally most alike Tommy because she’s a realist. She doesn’t rock the boat if she doesn’t have to. She stays very close to the ground. She’s similar to Tommy in the sense that she doesn’t want things to change. Her mentality is like many people: it’s hard to see someone who you love go into something else because you’re afraid they’re going to leave you behind. She’s afraid that her husband is doing something that she can’t be involved with. So at the very end of the day she feels the same way that Tommy feels.
Do you think Tasha and Angela Valdes, Ghost’s childhood love who he’s cheating with, have any similarities?
They’re different but they do have a common thread. The commonality between Tasha and Angela (Lela Loren) is their love for Ghost. I think they both need to be validated by love and they like to have the security of a relationship. Tasha likes that she is a wife and mother and Angela wants that type of relationship with Ghost.
What finale surprises can you share?
Things will be revealed and it gets deeper and deeper. There are lots of twists and turns. What’s going to happen in the last episode will leave the audience with its mouth open and anxiously awaiting the next season. I’m a fan of my own show. I watch it like a viewer.
Additional reporting by Jim Halterman.
Be sure to read our interview with “Power” creator and executive producer Courtney Kemp Agboh here.