It’s hard shedding the skin of a teenage popstar. In the past few years we’ve seen multiple examples of stars failing miserably from teen pop star to adulthood, people like Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Britney Spears. However, Naturi Naughton has managed to transition from teenie bopper to actress/singer almost flawlessly.
Naturi Naughton first came to fame with the girl group, 3LW. Their first single, “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right),” was released in 2000. Shortly after, their first album, 3LW went platinum in 2001. The rise to fame was quick, going on tour with big names such as Destiny’s Child, Nelly, Eve, and Jessica Simpson in the summer of 2001. A year later, Naughton was allegedly pushed out of the group by the other members and the record label. “The group had a lot to do with that by telling me; my voice was too soulful, [since] I was a darker skin girl I wasn’t as popular. It was a certain image I had to dress and be a certain way in order to be acceptable,” Naughton told Kontrol Magazine, an entertainment publication.
Although it seemed as if the 3LW breakup would be the end of her career, Naughton chose to use the stumbling block as a stepping stone. “It was a great learning experience that had its ups and downs. I’m really grateful for it all…It shaped me to learn more about myself,” she told Kontrol. From this point, Naughton’s career sky-rocketed. Naughton starred in the Tony Award winning Broadway musical “Hairspray” starting in 2005 up until 2008 as “Little Inez,” a spunky, multi talented character. “I am so blessed to have maintained a Broadway gig that long. I loved my experience in Hairspray and I credit a lot of my acting success to that experience. I learned so much,” she told film critic, Kam Williams on his personal blog.
What I love the most about Naughton is that she has overcome so many obstacles to get to where she is now. One of the biggest obstacles has been prejudices towards her skin color. “I think there’s always this cycle that happens when you’re a black woman in Hollywood, and it can be frustrating because you start to feel like you’re just a fad. Like, ‘oh, now the dark skin, beautiful, brown chocolate sistahs are in’…And it’s hard, because you start to feel like, ‘well, wait a minute. What’s wrong with my features, my complexion, my body type?’…And I’m not even gonna lie, it’s emotional,” she told Vlad TV, an entertainment web blog. Naturi took every negative experience in her life and was able to turn it around and become someone great.
Naughton currently stars in the HBO hit, “Power,” as the street smart wife of the drug dealer known as James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick). “I feel truly blessed to be one of the many Black women who are leading ladies on television…It’s encouraging to see our complexities and depth through these characters as opposed to painting the stereotypical picture that we are all one dimensional or spoof-like…So I say, ‘It’s about time!’ Black women ROCK and regardless of if Hollywood continues to validate that or not, we will still be colorful, unique and beautifully complicated!” Naughton told Vibe magazine. Not only is Naughton starring in a hit drama series on one of the most popular premium cable channels, she also starred as Lil’ Kim in “Notorious,”a biopic about the late rapper Notorious B.I.G. The film opened at No. 3 at the U.S. box office and went on to make $77 million worldwide. Not too shabby for her first movie.
Naturi Naughton has gracefully risen in the ranks, without the help of a “mental breakdown” or a “finding herself” publicity stunt. She took her skills and talents, and worked hard to make a name for herself outside of the 2000s teenie bopper world. Regardless of the judgements and prejudices, Naughton found a way, she found her niche, she made the entertainment business work for her instead of working for it. So you know what I say, “Go black girls! We rock!”
-Stormm Van Rooi