Naturi Naughton has been setting the acting bar high for herself these days; the young starlet’s film credits may be short thus far, but her output has been extremely impressive. After putting in gutsy movie performances in both Fame and Notorious, she’ll be featured next on the small screen this September in a role on AMC’s Emmy award winning hit drama, Mad Men.
But the former member of 3LW can currently be seen in the summer comedy, Lottery Ticket alongside Bow Wow, Ice Cube and Brandon T. Jackson, in theaters now. And the 26-year old tells VIBE there is a lot more thespian work left to accomplish in her future. —Ronke Idowu Reeves
VIBE: So who are you really more like as a person, Stacie in Lottery Ticket or Lil’ Kim in Notorious?
Stacie is a genuinely a good girl, going to Spellman [College], focused, sweet and falls in love. There’s a lot Stacie in me. It was a more natural role for me to play. She’s definitely closer to me as a person. When I was playing Lil’ Kim I had to say, ‘Naturi forget yourself.’ I had to be willing to completely fall into that character and not be afraid to be sexy, say whatever do whatever, spread my legs and be raunchy. And that fearlessness made me a better actress. After playing Lil’ Kim everything else was easy. [So far] as an actress there hasn’t been any place further to go.
All the guys love you for the sex scene you had in Notorious, so what was it like filming your love scene with Bow Wow in Lottery Ticket?
The love scene Bow Wow and I had was organic and the chemistry between us was easy. It was fun playing his love interest. I’ve known Bow Wow since we were kids. Before we became actors we were pop artists in the business, and now here we are in the movie ‘in love’ when [in real life] we’re really more like brother and sister. Before we shot the scene we were like, ‘How are we gonna do this?’ And I was like, ‘Just don’t put your tongue all down my throat. I love you but don’t go overboard’ [laughs]. And Bow Wow was very respectful— he was such a pro.
So far onscreen your track record has been 2 to 1 playing the good girl (Lottery Ticket, Fame) versus a more complex character like Kim in Notorious. Do you worry about typecasting?
I don’t just want to be a cute girl in a comedy or the actress who just does the same thing over and over again. I want to play roles that are distinct. I want to have a more varied career like actresses Viola Davis or Angela Bassett—those are the people that I grew up watching and admiring. And, I’m hoping I can be one of those actresses that has longevity in her career.
Are things changing at all in the industry or is it still harder for black actresses to get the plum roles?
It’s an active struggle, [trying to find work] which constantly affects my career. I’ve been fortunate and blessed to get the roles I’ve gotten so far. But there are a lot of things I don’t get and there are a lot of times where politics are involved. As a black actress you’ve got to work doubly hard. But it doesn’t ever get me to the point where I give up on myself. It just motivates me to be more prepared, focus and disciplined. That’s why I care so much about doing black films and making sure that we represent and are represented correctly.