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Eve, Naturi Naughton Talk What Attracted Them to ‘Queens’on ABC (Exclusive)

Eve, Naturi Naughton Talk What Attracted Them to ‘Queens’on ABC (Exclusive)

When ABC called on Eve and Naturi Naughton’s door to star in a new series as a hip-hop girl group, fans probably would’ve called it fate. Eve, a famous rapper with Ruff Ryder ties and Naughton, a former member of 3LW with experience studying famous female lyricists like Lil Kim –– the story practically wrote itself. To pair the two with musical genius Brandy Norwood and actress Nadine Velasquez was an added cherry and whipped cream on top. 

Though, it wasn’t only the promise of a well-imagined feisty ’90s girl group that drew the two to this nuanced project. The story had to be more than just a few beautifully envisioned female-centered music videos with a Swizz Beats-produced soundtrack to grab these queens.

“I was very happy to, um, to read. And even when I talked to is I hear McGee –– who’s the creator writer, and EP –– it wasn’t just going to be about the music and yes, the music has to be amazing, but it was about telling the stories of these women, and they had these lives,” Eve told PopCulture.com. “All the storylines are so layered that for me was like a big pool because I was like, I don’t want to just be it. Can’t just be about the music. It has to be about these ladies.  What are the, what’s the substance, where is the substance? And there’s so much in every freaking episode and every storyline.”

Eve portrays the show’s do-it-all mom, Brianna. Though, in her former life, she went by Professor Sex. The former rap star’s life turns upside down when her husband, for whom she traded in all the glitz and glamour that fame could bring for a quiet life in the suburbs, gets caught cheating and winds up with a life-threatening disease. Reuniting with her former friends Naomi aka Xplicit Lyrics (Norwood), Valeria aka Butter Pecan (Nadine Velasquez), and Jill aka Jill da Thrill (Naughton) is paramount in her personal journey to rediscover her old self as a woman, outside of the family she built.  

For Jill, Naughton’s reformed clergy member character finds her thrill in an extramarital relationship. A storyline that shows her character navigating her sexuality as well as how to come out to her husband and congregation is different from not only the norm of TV characters but also not something fans have seen from Naughton before.  “That’s part of what I thought was interesting to play,” she said of her role.  On top of her identity issues, Jill also has a history of substance abuse, and getting back in the industry threatens her sobriety. “I was also really excited to kind of tap into what it means when you’re in the business. Jill has kind of had some issues with drug abuse and just, we’re literally seeing how that’s happening and taking people’s lives to this day.”

“Not only is she dealing with identity issues, but a lot of those identity issues can spawn you to drink or do drugs and all those issues of self-esteem and self-love and self-worth, and Jill is literally a walking testimony. And I hope that when people see that they know this business can chew you up and spit you out if you let it,” Naughton continued. 

While the character altogether might be a different look for the Power alum, seeing Naughton rap may serve as a flashback to her previous turn as Lil Kim in the Biggie Smalls biopic Notorious. Despite the experience, the actress still didn’t view MC skills as a fluent musical ability of hers. 

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“I have a whole new respect for rappers, lyricists just that whole process because I write my own songs for example, but it’s different because it’s coming from me and I can take my time in RnB melodies,” she said. “It’s fun to be able to tap into both sides. Musically singing and rapping are different, but it was nice to be able to show that I can do both” Queens on ABC airs on Tuesday nights at 9/10 PT.

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