EXCLUSIVE: Naturi Naughton's Baby Bump Photo Shoot Is An Ode To Black Culture

Photo by Joey Rosado @islandboiphotography
'We always try to incorporate African proverbs or Kente cloth or use different images to celebrate this beautiful Black girl that’s coming into the world," the 'Power' star told ESSENCE

Naturi Naughton is having a great year. After putting in work for years as a singer and actress, Naughton is not only gearing up for the return of the wildly popular Starz drama, Power (June 25), but she’s preparing to welcome her first child into the world.

Understandably, she’s overflowing with happiness.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: 'Power' Star Naturi Naughton Reveals Her Baby's Gender At Intimate Shower

“I feel really happy; pregnancy has been good to me,” Naughton confesses. “I’m in love, I’m looking forward to just sharing this next level of life. My whole life has been about working and being in the girl group and being on stage and being an actress, but now I get to really enjoy a bigger purpose, which is motherhood, so I’m really excited.”

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Recently, ESSENCE spoke with the Power star about the show, her pregnancy and why it’s so important that she makes sure her baby girl is surrounded by Black girl magic.

RELATED: Naturi Naughton Expecting First Child

This is your first child, so how have you been preparing to be a mom?

Logistically, just trying to prepare my home, my nursery, prepare my mind. I don’t really know a perfect way to be prepared to be a mother. It’s really hard because there’s so many things that keep running through my mind and it feels like it’s never enough. However, talking to my mother more and just thinking about the examples I had through my grandmothers and my mother and I think just being prepared is just readying myself for what’s to come and just being ready for the blessing.

Have you and your partner, Ben, talked about how having a child will affect your relationship?

Maybe it’s naive, but we feel like we’ll still be out on the town. It’s going to take adjustments and we definitely talked about it. We’re definitely doing the best to prepare for all of the things that will change, but we want to maintain us. A little bit of the fun and romance, that’s important to me. Hopefully we’ll still grow through the changes and continue to love each other.

Have people been pressuring you to get married?

I don’t feel crazy pressure anymore. Naturally, the way I grew up and the way I was raised...I didn’t anticipate being pregnant at this time. Of course I wanted to be a mom and have children, but the reality is God’s plan is not always in alignment with my plan. I wanted to do it my way, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I still think I can still have that dream, and I want to be married — and I will — I think we’re just taking it step-by-step and not worrying about what other people’s judgments or thoughts are because at the end of the day, they’re not living for me, or for us.

One of the really great moments is this photo shoot. What was it like getting all dolled up and sharing this moment with your partner?

It’s kind of like our first family photo shoot. I felt gorgeous and he was looking all good, and we just made the best of something that I didn’t even know if it would fit into the schedule. The photographer [Joey Rosado] was so wonderful and he made me feel beautiful, but I feel beautiful every day with my man. He tells me everyday, and he talks to my stomach and we do a little thing where we just have a moment where we’re really appreciative of every blessing. I think the photo shoot captured that love and the love inside of me.

When it comes to the color scheme, I’m sensing a theme. At your babyshower you were dressed in all white, but it was very colorful and afrocentric. Is that something you’re attracted to?

We both just really appreciate Black culture. Ben wore a shirt from Ghana and my theme was “It takes a village to raise a child” for my baby shower. We just always try to incorporate African proverbs or Kente cloth or using different images to celebrate this beautiful Black girl that’s coming into the world. I think in society we get so caught up trying to assimilate and be like other people, but in reality what we feel is that we just want to celebrate who we are.

We’re in an interesting time. On one hand we’ve made so much progress as Black people in general, despite the current political climate, and then we’re having this really powerful #BlackGirlMagic moment. What kinds of things do you plan to impart to your daughter?

Everything that my parents imparted to me. When I was coming up we didn’t have the movement of Black Girl Magic or Black Girls Rock, but my parents made it their business to make sure I saw positive images of myself and celebrated images of Black women. I want to implement those same things but thank goodness today there’s a movement that celebrates all of our hues, our shades, our beauty, our lips, our noses--there’s a celebration surrounding Black women.

I grew up with insecurities about those things because people made fun of my complexion or made fun of how big my lips were when I was a kid. Even when I was a professional singer, I went through things in 3LW that really weighed on my self-esteem. I’m just sick of it. Thank God, now we have a time where we can make sure these girls know how beautiful they are, how special they are, and how worthy they are.

I know how difficult it is to stay firm in who you are, so I’m going to do the work. Me and my man are going to do the work. Little girls need their fathers, little girls need their mothers, but little girls need support from the world, particularly when they’re Black.

You mentioned 3LW and recently reunited with one of your group mates on TV. You guys had moment and Adrienne Bailon apologized. Is that chapter closed?

I was asked to be a guest on The Real to promote Power and then they told me that she wanted to apologize. I had already closed that chapter and worked through some of those painful memories on my own, but it was definitely public closure between her and I, and I accepted her apology. To me, it’s not worth holding grudges and being bitter and being angry when there are so many blessings that have happened in my life because of 3LW.

After it aired, there’s still some bitterness, I guess we can call it, from the group’s former manager, Tse Williams, who was going off on Twitter.

All I can say is bitterness is simply what it is. It shines through just the way that happiness does, you can’t really hide bitterness. But it’s kinda sad and I wish her well.

I can’t let you go without asking about Power. What can we expect from Tasha in season four?

In season four Tasha is the strongest she’s ever been. You’ll really get to see her pick up the pieces and handle her business while Ghost is in jail. You also can expect to see Tasha--without telling too much--fall in love this year. You get to see Tasha step up as a mother, this year she really has to fight to save her son Tariq and fight to protect her children while Ghost is in prison. He’s been gallivanting around for three seasons with Angela and now he’s like, oh it backfired. Duh, yes it backfired! So this year people will continue to root for Tasha she’s the woman you want on your side, even when you mess up.

Power returns on Sunday June 25 on Starz 

On Naughton: red skirt by Roberto Cavalli, beige top and bottom by K.Kupitrac (Katherine Kupitrac), crown by Sascha Hosey for PatriciaField.com, jewelry by GBGH jewelry.

Ben wears pants by Ralph Lauren.

Creative Director - Tiffany Lamb
Hairstylist - Tiffany Lamb
Photographer - Joey Rosado
Makeup Artist - Kenyada Lamb
Stylist - Mickey Freeman
Body Paint - Moshoodat

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