*Naturi Naughton portrays Jill Da Thrill in ABCs “Queens” – a new series following a former female rap group making a second run.
EUR correspondent Jill Munroe spoke with Naughton about Black women and their sexuality in hip-hop and how Angela Bassett and Regina King poured into her.
“Queens” showcases women at an age the entertainment industry usually considers “past their prime” but taking control of all aspects of their lives. One of the areas Jill Da Thrill is opening up about is her sexuality – what was it like stepping into this role?
“I was excited to step into this role and take on that monster of a subject because it’s still very relevant in today’s hip-hop and R&B culture – even social media,” said Naughton. “We’re told how to look, how to dress, how to be. Over-sexualizing, hyper-sexualizing – all of that is very real. Jill struggling with who she was back then, a sexy, raunchy hardcore rapper who was getting all the dudes but hiding that she was a lesbian the whole time. She married a man, she’s catholic, she struggled with the feeling of, how can I be my true self? And that’s hard. When you see the show and watch her coming out and watch her journey and question…can I be myself and be a dope rapper, be catholic and be in my church, and be who I am? And that answer is yes! There is complexity in who we are, and we don’t have to be one thing and not the other. These are the complexities the show explores.”
Mentorship is highlighted in “Queens” through Jill’s relationship with new-school rapper Lil Muffin (Pepi Sonuga). Who were the women in your career that gave you advice on mentorship?
“I’ve had a lot of those moments. Some women that particularly stand out…Regina King, Lela Rochon, Angela Bassett in my first movie, “Notorious.” Angela told me, ‘it’s going to be a crazy ride, but remember who you are and stay true,'” said the actress.
“With Regina, we did a BET movie called “Let the Church Say Amen.” She directed, and I’ll never forget what she said to me…’embrace your face and how unique your beauty is.’ I said, ‘oh, I’m just a regular Black girl.’ She said, ‘no, there’s nothing regular about you. Who you are is unique. Your eyes, your full lips, your cheekbones.’ Sometimes the industry can may you think, ‘do I have to look different?'” Said Naughton.
“One of my biggest mentors who isn’t in the business is my mother. She is my constant mentor, and I am her forever mentee. She was a paralegal and had to learn how to operate a job in government, being one of the few Black women. She was there for 40 years. To make waves in a way that some people don’t feel is threatening, you have to learn when to hold and when to fold. I’ve learned balance and knowing how to survive in an industry that doesn’t always want you to,” continued Naughton.
“Queens” also stars Eve, Brandy, Nadine Velazquez and Taylor Sele and airs Tuesday nights on ABC.