Music industry veterans Eve, Brandy, and Naturi Naughton joined co-star Nadine Velazquez and Variety journalist Angelique Jackson during the Entertainment All Access experience at the 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture presented by Coca-Cola to preview their upcoming ABC drama series, “Queens.”
In this hotly-anticipated musical drama featuring original compositions from legendary producer Swizz Beatz, the four actresses portray estranged members of Hip-Hop supergroup Nasty Bitches, who reunite after years apart to seize an opportunity to reclaim their notoriety. Now in their 40’s and after being out of touch for years, can these ladies re-spark the swagger that made them industry heavy hitters in the 90’s?
As an artist herself, Eve says she identifies with the plight of former rapper Brianna aka “Professor Sex” and understands the need to keep that inner swag spark lit. “They were the biggest hip-hop group in their times,” she said. “They were those girls, period. Every girl wanted to be them, every guy wanted to be with them. And, just like in real life, life happens. But you always need that fire back. You always have to get back to ‘that girl.’”
A highly heralded singer since her teen years, Brandy was most drawn to the musical elements of this new acting venture. But she had to pull from some major inspiration to delve into the rapper aspect of her character Naomi aka “Xplicit Lyrics.”
“Music is my first love, so this is a dream role to actually be able to sing, rap, and do all the musical elements that come with this show,” Brandy said. “For Naomi, she loves to sing and that’s one of the reasons she joined the group, but she realized that she can rap too. So, I pull my inspiration from Nas, Biggie, Pac, that era. It was an amazing time to play both Naomi and Xplicit Lyrics.”
Naturi Naughton felt transported back to her 3LW days while filming music video scenes as Jill aka “Da Thrill,” and drew on her own experiences to breathe life into her role.
“It was so much fun,” Naughton said. “It kind of took me back to when I was doing music videos, being in a girl group, being in the music business, and reliving some of that was definitely a little nostalgic for me, but fun!”
Veteran film and TV actress Nadine Velazquez is more than comfortable in the acting arena, but leaned on her co-stars for support while sliding into musical mode as Valeria aka “Butter Pecan.” “We all know I have no musical background whatsoever,” she laughed, while her co-stars supportively let her know that she “killed it” in her role. “Me coming into this as the one that has no rap experience, no singing, performing live ever, and to still be contexted and held by each of them, I was able to move through that because they’re so dope. They were so supportive and helpful, so there was a bonding that happened. There was an honesty and a rawness and realness, and you really see that (on-screen).”
Check out the full conversation in the video above. For more of everything you missed during week 1 of the Entertainment All Access experience at the 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, visit the official webpage HERE.
ESSENCE Entertainment All Access is sponsored by ABC, Disney, ESPN, Amazon Prime Video, Freeform, Hulu, FOX, STARZ, Tubi and VH1.