Known as a singer in the award-winning group 3LW, Naturi Naughton broke out as an actress in her role as Lil’ Kim in the movie Notorious, and as Lil Inez in Broadway’s Hairspray. She spoke with GlossMagazineOnline (GMO) about her new lead role as Kendra on Lifetime’s television series, The Client List. An adaptation of the network’s original movie, the show, also starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Loretta Devine, tells the story of workers in a “risqué” massage salon.
GlossMagazineOnline (GMO): When you first hit the scene, you were a singer in the girl-group 3LW. When did you realize you wanted to act?
Naturi Naughton: I always knew. When I was a teenager, probably about 16, I was always very dramatic. I did a couple of plays in school and I was very passionate about the arts. I went to school, studied voice and dance, and that’s when it hit me. But I didn’t know it would happen by doing a Broadway show.
GMO: As an actress, where does your inspiration come from?
Naturi: It’s not as much as an actress, but more so a singer as an actress. I was always inspired by Whitney Houston, who’s also from New Jersey, and her ability to be a singer and do movies. That was my first inspiration. As a young girl, I realized it was possible because of Whitney’s career and other actresses. As I got older, I saw Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got to do With It and I thought she was so fantastic in that film! I’m also inspired by women like Halle Berry and Jada Pinkett Smith. I am a huge fan of those women.
GMO: How did you land a role in Lifetime’s The Client List?
Naturi: I went in to audition for the producers and the director, and I just got it. I did my scenes and fortunately they really liked me. I was really excited when my agent called and told me they loved me and I got the part. It was a normal process like any other actor auditioning in L.A., so I was really they wanted me.
GMO: Can you tell me about your character, Kendra?
Naturi: I play Kendra who is a young girl from Texas. She’s really sweet, very positive and extremely optimistic about life. She gives her yoga mentality into everything! But she’s somewhat living a double life. Her fiancé doesn’t know she works at a spa so that’s one of the struggles she deals with. Should she be honest, keep a secret, get married or not get married? She’s going through a lot of ups and downs and a ton of growing pains.
GMO: I can’t wait to see what Kendra decides to do!
Naturi: Yes! There’s a big story line for my character so make sure you guys tune in.
GMO: How would you say your acting has evolved from playing in Hairspray on Broadway, Lil’ Kim in Notorious to now Kendra in The Client List?
Naturi: Oh wow, I’ve grown tremendously. Lil’ Kim is a totally different role than Kendra on The Client List and Hairspray I played Little Inez on Broadway. It was eight shows a week and such a good experience for me as well. I’ve evolved in thinking on my feet. I’m good at being put in a position where I have to improvise. I’ve done different kinds of roles in theatre, movies and TV. The more that I’ve done the more I’ve realized I have a lot to offer. When I first started, I was insecure by my confidence has really grown.
GMO: Is there anything crazy or unusual you do to help you get into character?
Naturi: I do a lot of research! Sometimes I walk around talking like the character. I try to practice it all day long. I embody the character for a long period of time everywhere I go, even the grocery store. I try to look like the person, speak like them and always in that state of mind.
GMO: How is it working with acting icons like Jennifer Love Hewitt, Loretta Devine and Cybil Shepherd?
Naturi: I love working with them! I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many veterans so to me it’s a big deal. I love the fact I’m working with women who have long careers, so I ask them questions all the time and they share their experiences with me. They talk about what it takes to have a career this long. I’ve learned so much from being around them. It inspires me that I can have a career that lasts that long. One day I hope I can be the executive producer of a show of my own. Working with veterans lets me know anything is possible if you work hard.
GMO: You’ve already mastered singing and now acting. What other industries do you want to get involved in?
Naturi: I want to write. I’m working on developing my writing skills. Ultimately, I want to write my own films and my own scripts
GMO: I read in an article that your dream is to get back on Broadway. What show would you love to be in?
Naturi: I love Broadway. I’m working on a new musical right now. I can’t speak too much on it, but it’s a Tupac inspired musical called Holla If You Hear Me. I’m actually in New York doing rehearsals right now. Hopefully, it’ll go to Broadway if people like it. I would definitely love to be part of that and get back on the Broadway stage.
GMO: We loved you in 3LW! I’m sure you have other fans who are wondering if you plan on getting back into singing.
Naturi: I’m thinking about it. A lot of fans have been following me since my 3LW days and they’re very supportive of that. Singing is still a huge passion of mine. But, I’m one of those people who try to focus on one thing at a time. I’m trying to really give acting my focus, so in the next year or so I can really get into my music. I know all the fans want an album. Music is in my heart. I want to thank the fans for always supporting me. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity to do what I love.
Make sure to tune in to Lifetime’s The Client List Sundays at 10PM EST. Follow Naturi Naughton on Twitter: @NaturiNaughton
* Photos Courtesy of Much and House Public Relations.