Power Premiere Preview: “Not Exactly How We Planned” [VIDEO and PHOTOS + Exclusive Naturi Naughton Interview]
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
You had me at Omari Hardwick. I can’t say I’ve been following his career for that long, but I really enjoyed him in Being Mary Jane. So when I heard he was staring in a new series on Starz I knew I’d be checking it out. I’m three episodes in and very happy with where this story is going so far. I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t seen the pilot yet – which is available online if you’re not a Starz subscriber – but I do like that the show keeps surprising me. You think you know where it’s going, but you don’t. I’m rooting for Ghost to become a legitimate businessman, but there are many forces conspiring against him – some expected and some not.
From Executive Producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and show creator Courtney Kemp Agboh (The Good Wife) comes Power, a visionary crime drama set in two different worlds: the glamorous New York club scene and the brutal drug trade. James “Ghost” St. Patrick has it all: a beautiful wife, a gorgeous Manhattan penthouse and the hottest up-and-coming new nightclub in New York. His club, Truth, caters to the elite: the famous and infamous boldface names that run the city that never sleeps. As its success grows, so do Ghost’s plans to build an empire. However, Truth hides an ugly reality. It’s a front for Ghost’s criminal underworld; a lucrative drug network, serving only the wealthy and powerful. As Ghost is seduced by the prospect of a legitimate life, everything precious to him becomes unknowingly threatened. Once you’re in, can you ever get out?
We spoke exclusively to Naturi Naughton, who plays Tasha St. James. Her character is crafty, fierce and drop-dead gorgeous. Tasha has been at Ghost’s side for years. Throughout his rise in the drug game, she’s raised their three children and helped him run his empire, while also providing the stable home life he craves. In returns she enjoys a lavish lifestyle and the illusion of normal domesticity. But as Ghost becomes moreÂ invested in Truth, Tasha begins to realize her fantasy may be in jeopardy and she asserts control over her own future.
TV GOODNESS: I’ve seen the first three episodes and I’m enjoying the series so far.
Naturi Naughton:Â “Oh, good. It’s pretty exciting.Â I think the fans who have been watching my career and who are excited about Power-Â I just canâ€™t wait for people to tune in. I hope [they] enjoy the ride because it’s gonna get even crazier. Trust me.”
TV GOODNESS: How did you hear about this project and what was it about this character that made you want this role?
Naturi: “The way I heard about this was the ordinary process for an actress in LA. My agents said, ‘There’s this great project called Power. We’re sending you the script and material and getting you an appointment.’ I remember reading it and being so captivated by the writing and the complexity of the characters. Courtney Kemp Agboh is an African-American woman who I think is a really, really creative and beautiful writer. I was really drawn to how it was in New York City, how gritty it felt. I love doing things that feels unstructured. I’m partial to the home base, the East Coast. I was excited about that and I was also drawn to how they wrote it as if they were gonna use music as part of the story, the vibe of the urban world. It was very complex and I like that. So I was excited to delve into a character like this and have fun with something a little bit more womanly, too, because I haven’t had the pleasure of playing a wife. I get to play Omari Hardwick’s wife, which is pretty exciting. He was a friend of mine before I got Power and I was excited to work with him, I’m a fan of his. I play a wife and a young mother and to be this strong, fierce woman was pretty attractive to me. I was pretty excited.”
TV GOODNESS:Â I like your character a lot. We’re constantly discovering new things about her and being drawn in by her. What do you think motivates Tasha St. James?
Naturi: “Wow that’s a great question. It’s so true that you will continue to discover little by little, more and more of who Tasha is, what she’s made of, what she has the capability of doing. What’s important to her is her sense of security. You can see that even in the first couple of episodes. She really wants a partnership. Her husband and her have been like Bonnie and Clyde, that’s something she really prides herself in. The fact that, even though they come from a criminal world and the drug trade, she’s helped him build his drug empire. She still feels like no matter what we’re in this together, we go down together, we rise up together. So I think what makes her do all of these different things is trying to keep her family together. She wants security. Tasha is a character that came from the streets. She grew up in Queens, her mother’s kind of bitter and didn’t ever have a real relationship with her father. She never had the stability of family, of marriage. She never had that example. Tasha is really, really, really motivated by a sense of security and stability and when she feels like somebody’s threatening it or she feels like something’s happening – whether it be the club, whether it be a character, a woman – it doesn’t matter. It’s gonna go down and she gonna fight for hers all day long. That’s just who she is.”
TV GOODNESS:Â I like that Tasha comes across so strong. One thing that surprised me, but in a good way, is that she knows all about Ghost’s business. They seem to be in it together. Is Ghost really telling her everything though?
Naturi: “[Laughs.] That’s funny. I want you to watch and I don’t want to ruin it. I’m trying to figure out how to answer that.”
TV GOODNESS: No spoilers! It’s a difficult question, I know.
Naturi: “Tasha is very aware. She’s an aware wife. She’s not the wife that’s in distress when she finds out her husband’s a drug dealer. She’s not the wife that’s oblivious to that world. If anything, she’s giving him tips on how to handle it and helping him navigate. She’s the one that will hide the gun and throw away the evidence and do whatever it takes, so I think down the road there are sides of Ghost – and his name is so appropriate – that are not as clear as I thought and that are not always transparent. Of course she’s been honest and open and we think we know everything about each other, but in any marriage, in any relationship sometimes a lot can be revealed later. Like, Â ‘Oh, I thought I was your everything and that I knew everything.’ There’s always surprises down the road so I think when you watch these two, the Tasha/Ghost relationship, I think what’s nice is that we haven’t made it cookie cutter perfect little- we are the real deal and there’s going to be many ups and downs in our marriage.”
TV GOODNESS:Â How far do you think Tasha would go to maintain this lifestyle?
Naturi: “Tasha loves, loves to be able to have whatever she wants at the drop of a dime, the dresses – the Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen. Her style is fierce. I love playing this character just because I get to have the most amazing wardrobe in the history of television, I think. I feel it’s like Sex and the City at times because as this character evolves you’ll see she’s just continuously fierce and everything is fabulous. It reminds me of a little grittier Sex and the City woman. She could totally be walking down the street with Carrie Bradshaw. I think Tasha does want to fight for this lifestyle. The lifestyle is not just about the clothes, the money, the bags. We have La La Anthony, who plays my best friend in the show LaKeisha Grant, the woman who’s very much wowed by all the stuff Ghost showers me with, the gifts, the life. Eventually Tasha will [realize] that that’s not all that makes her happy, that’s not necessarily enough to keep her happy. So I think she will fight for this lifestyle as much as she can, but I think more than the lifestyle, she’s fighting for her life. It’s not even just the lifestyle, it’s her life with this man that she’s put everything into. She has sowed everything into Ghost and she’s not willing to give up the harvest.”
TV GOODNESS:Â Talk to me about working with Omari Hardwick.
Naturi: “Ah! Such a pleasure. Omari was honestly like a big brother to me before I even got Power. We’ve seen each other in Atlanta and LA. [He’s] just always very much supportive of my journey as an actress and I felt the same about him. It was fun. We had challenges because we were friends and we’re honest with each other so we definitely pushed each other to be our best, which I really appreciate about working with him. He’s a very, very spontaneous, quick on his feet kind of guy so as an actress I felt like he kept my senses sharp. Omari really keeps you on your toes. I’m happy that I got the pleasure to do that.”
TV GOODNESS:Â Tasha starts up a little flirtation with Sinqua Walls‘ Shawn. What can you tell me about where that’s going?
Naturi: “Flirtation/manipulation. She is a smart woman. I think some people may only dial in to the fact that Tasha’s very free sexually. It’s so much deeper than that. If you look past that and look at the artistry of it and the way the writing is put together that moment with Shawn, that flirtation with him and her using her sexiness is a way she asserts her power. She knows how to play chess. She knows what moves need to be made to protect her king and to protect her kingdom, so I think if she has certain things in her back pocket and certain manipulative moves Tasha is the one who will go for it and do whatever it takes to have the person on her side or the person to give her information. At the end of the day she is a power player just as much as Ghost is. Even though she’s not necessarily directly in the drug world or directly in the club world, she knows what she needs to do to keep herself in his world and that’s what I think the Shawn thing- and it will grow though and I’m excited for the viewers to see how Tasha and Shawn’s interesting relationship develops.”
TV GOODNESS:Â Tashaâ€™s relationship with her mother gets a little tense in episode 2. Can you talk to me about their dynamic?
Naturi: “I love those scenes. I love the relationship between Tasha and her mother and that was one of the things when I first read this- I was like, ‘Oh my gosh I canâ€™t wait to see what theyâ€™re gonna have to play.’ The amazing Debbi Morgan, who’s been around for many years and is such a great actress that I’ve admired, plays my mother flawlessly and we have such fun on set. Their relationship is tense because Estelle is trying to protect her from the mistakes she feels like she made but she also puts a level of pressure on Tasha to make sure she holds it down and doesnâ€™t lose her man. She almost makes it like itâ€™s bound to happen, so thereâ€™s this dynamic between mother and daughter thatâ€™s like, â€˜Iâ€™m not you. I know what I have and I know the man I have,â€™ so thatâ€™s very real whether you have a mother like Estelle or not. When you look at the story itâ€™s just such an interesting mother/daughter dynamic thatâ€™s combative, but also based in love. Itâ€™s compelling, just a real situation where the mom is afraid of her daughter being her and her daughter is also equally afraid of becoming her. So there’s this back and forth between us that I think is really fun to watch on the show.”
TV GOODNESS:Â Whatâ€™s coming up for Tasha that youâ€™re allowed to talk about?
Naturi: “She will find herself throughout the season. She doesnâ€™t really know all of what she can do and what she can offer and she doesnâ€™t really know herself without Ghost. In short Iâ€™ll just say she will find herself – not saying it wonâ€™t be with Ghost or anything like that. I think finding yourself even if youâ€™re in a relationship or marriage, is so important because Tasha never really took the time to dig deep into herself. Sheâ€™s always dug into Ghost. Thatâ€™s something I canâ€™t wait for people to see.”
Edited for space and content.
Power premieres on Saturday at 9/8c on Starz.
Creator/EPÂ Courtney Kemp Agboh talks about the show:
The Style of Power:
The music of Power:
All photos courtesy of Starz.
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