No one takes an L while scoring in bed on Starz' hit series Power. The show's creator, Courtney Kemp Agboh, developed a multi-dimensional drama that not only focuses on the fast money and dangers of the drug business, but the many complexities of its characters. However, the sex scenes sometimes steal the show.
In a recent interview, VIBE sat down with Joseph Sikora and Naturi Naughton (who play Tommy and Tasha, respectively) then Omari Hardwick and Lela Lora (Ghost and Angela) and asked how they mentally prepare for their explosive sex scenes. And while the entire cast agrees committing to the role 100 percent is key, what fans see on camera isn't exactly what happens on set.
VIBE: Alright, let's get right to it: the sex scenes in Power are very...
Naturi Naughton: Sex scenery... (Laughs) Sex Scenes-ish (Laughs)
Right! As actors, when you read the script, you understand why that scene is important, but in the moment, how do you handle it?
Joseph Sikora: My wife is in the business. She's a make-up artist.
Okay. But she's still your wife.
JS: Yeah, but I guess the point is she understands the inner workings. She's been on set and seen sex scenes happening for the past 18 years, so she understands that there is a sock on my dick and a dam on the vagina for the girl and that 99 percent of men are limp that time.
NN: It's not sexy.
JS: It's not sexy as much as it's technical—and it's acting. I mean, there's a certain amount of truth and "falling in love" that has to happen. I believe you need to fall in love with that character, but as soon as they call "cut" and you don't stop kissing, there's something wrong with you.
What do you mean by fall in love with the character?
JS: There's a part of Tommy that's in love with Holly. There's a baby baby aspect of Joseph that loves Lucy [Walters] but only as Lucy is Holly. Get it? It's a complex thing to have in your mind. It's not typical for everybody's job but it's necessity for it to ring true.
[To Naturi] As a woman, doing these sex scenes, I assume, can be even more challenging.
NN: I've done sex scenes in Notorious before as Lil Kim and it was hard to do that, but what I rely on is how these characters interact. Like Joseph said, falling in love with the character, but it's also me. I feel vulnerable being naked, but it's also being naked, emotionally, and I think that always helps the character. I'm all about finding what makes this sex scene purposeful because some people have said 'I saw your tits, they're beautiful.' I'm like, 'Okay, thanks!' We did an interview with The Breakfast Club and Charlamagne went in about my nipples.
JS: The image of a Hershey's kiss will never be the same for me.
NN: And it's all in fun, but one thing I've learned is to not look at it as, 'This is what Naturi is doing, it's Tasha in love with her husband.' When I'm having sex scenes with Omari Hardwick, I look at that like, 'This is love.' Yes, it's sexy. Sometimes its hard. Sometimes it's soft. Sometimes you come home from dinner and you just can't wait to get it in but by being on a premium network, it gives us an opportunity to show how couples really get down. When I look at it like that, I let go of my own inhibitions.
JS: It's used as a tool rather than a gratuitous thing to watch.
NN: Yeah, it's not at all sexy in the moment.
JS: I think that's the biggest part of using it as a storytelling tool rather than just giving people eye candy.
I was just speaking to Joseph and Naturi, and we agreed the sex scenes are the icing on the cake. The cake is the writing and the complexity in the characters. However, Zoe Saldana said in an old interview, 'Asking an actor if they would do a nude scene is the equivalent to asking a painter, would they paint with red?'
Omari Hardwick: Paint with red, you said?
Yes. You don't ask the painter what colors they would use, painters just use the colors that are called for. As a woman, do you ever wonder if this scene is really called for?
Lela Loren: You go into this creative zone, and in the moment, you get so passionate about telling the story, wanting to do a good job and be excellent. When you're doing it—even though you're in it—it's so obviously pretend land. If you could be a fly on the wall during a sex scene, it's so... the idea that people have what's really happening is just the antithesis, right?
LL: So at the time, it feels very okay because you're telling the story. Where the apprehension and that sinking feeling comes in is when you see it cut together and it looks real and you're like, (gasps) 'Oh my God! I did that. What are people going to think of me?'
OH: But this is hard. As a woman of color and a woman in general, it's definitely a difficult thing to go into a vulnerable position that you do with your significant other at home and all of a sudden, you're doing it with somebody that's...
Right! But I also think the security some actresses feel comes from their leading man. Gabrielle Union was doing promo for Being Mary Jane and said some actors were respectful while others used it as an opportunity to go there!
OH: I hope she wasn't talking about me. (Laughs)
LL: Courtney did a really amazing job and production did an amazing job at hiring men with a lot of integrity, whose foremost job is to put the safety of women first. On set, you never really feel objectified. But where that happens is the viewership and when fans see it. That's the part where I gasp sometimes. But I also had dinner with Omari and his wife, Jay, because I wanted her to meet me.
OH: Those things help.
LL: And it was one of those things where I saw the relationship and I saw how much of a strong, fierce, woman she is. There was that piece of 'I can trust him because she married him.'
OH: Gabby got closer to Jay then to me.
Last question. Describe season two of Power in 140 Characters.
OH: Roller coaster of deceit.
LL: Fisticuffs. Convoluted. Dark. Corrupted.
OH: And violent with two exclamation marks. (Laughs)