What initially attracted you to the role of Tasha on Power?
Well, when I first read Power, I liked that she has this really strong presence and she’s sexy, she’s fierce, but she’s also a bit of a bad girl. It’s always fun to play a character who has complexity and multiple sides. I was always attracted to the fact that Tasha is a mother and a wife, she’s married to a drug dealer and she’s cool with it. It’s not what you would expect.
You said in another interview that you actually had to fight to win the role of Tasha.
Yeah, I did. It was a challenge only because it took a long time to get this part. I had to do multiple auditions, multiple testings all because I’m a little younger than they were expecting. I remember being challenged to be a little more mature because I’m not a mom or a wife, yet I’m playing one. When I went back in for another audition, I wore a sexy dress and did my makeup a certain way to age myself up. It wasn’t easy but when it finally all came through, it was worth it. When I was offered the part, I jumped up and down because everything I had worked for had finally come into fruition.
You said you’re not a wife or a mother like Tasha is but do you see yourself in some of her other characteristics?
I do see some of myself. Not too much because she’s a little more daring than I am. Naturi would never do some of the crazy things that Tasha has done. I think Tasha is outspoken and is very real, and that’s exactly how I am. I’m opinionated and strong but I’m loyal too. Tasha is extremely loyal if you watch how her character has grown. She respects loyalty and she hates to be betrayed.
How would you say she’s changed between the first and second seasons?
Oh my god, she’s changed so much. In season one she was a bit of a beautiful trophy wife who’s just enjoying the life that the money from the drug game afforded her. And she was just happy. But she was also very dependant on her husband. I think she grew in season two because now she sees that she doesn’t have to depend on him forever.
Between Power and Empire, I’m loving all these strong, powerful women that are almost a driving force behind their husbands.
Oh, absolutely. At the end of the day, behind every great man is a great woman. I think that the way these characters are depicted on television shows us that despite what you might think, these woman, like Tasha, are ride or die. She has her husband’s back and she has built him up, which is why it’s so devastating when her husband betrays her. I love that TV is opening up the complexities of women and especially women married to powerful men. But don’t get it twisted…women are just as powerful.
Have you been able to work with 50 Cent on set?
I actually had some cool scenes with him this season, it was fantastic. Working with him is great, he’s fun and really down to earth. He’s the boss but when he’s on set he’s also like a big brother.
How involved is he behind the scenes?
He’s our executive producer and he’s more involved with the story and making sure that the authenticity of that New York flavour comes through. A lot of it is based on things he experienced. He’s definitely involved in telling us where some of the stories stem from because he’s so closely connected to them. He’s not afraid to tell a story that can be scary and isn’t all good because he knows that it makes the show so real. We’re really utilizing 50’s experiences to bring Power to life.
I want to go back a bit and ask about the film Notorious. Was portraying Lil Kim as intimidating as it sounds?
It was definitely intimidating but it was the most incredible experience, I have to say. Playing Lil Kim, who is a hip hop icon, I loved it. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone, I mean, she’s sexy and she’s dangerous. When I first took on the role I was a little like ‘whoa, am I going to be able to do this?’ I did a lot of research on her life growing up, what she’s been through and her relationships. I really studied her music to emulate the sound and style. I was doing mouth exercises and working with a dialect coach every day just to make sure I had that Brooklyn swag. It was no joke. I was scared but it was the most rewarding experience I’ve had.
Since leaving the group 3LW, how are you splitting your time between acting and music?
I’m actually getting back in the studio and working on music. It’s exciting because acting has been my passion for the last two years because the music industry kind of burned me, I was really traumatized after the 3LW break up. It was a hard experience for me to go through especially as a teenager but the good news is that I’m always going to be singing and I believe that I was born to do music as well as acting. Thanks to everything going so well with Power, you might actually hear me singing on the show soon.