Actress, and singer Naturi Naughton, known best for her brief stint in R&B group 3LW and her role as Lil Kim in the movie Notorious, recently discussed her new role as house bunny for the new NBC Sitcom Playboy Club.
Naturi plays Brenda, the only African American bunny in the club whose character is loosely based on the first African American playmate, Jennifer Jackson. During the interview, Naturi discusses with Huff Post Black Voices what she feels the character embodies by stating;
“My character, by the name of Brenda, she’s one of the first black bunnies at the club in Chicago. Its 1961, she’s very ambitious, she’s a very strong, opinionated young woman. And I think she’s a fun, spirited girl, too. She has a good time. She doesn’t let some of the negative energy affect her, but she’s also very smart and she knows what’s happening in the world. And she’s not willing to let that stop her from dealing with the Civil Rights and so many things that affect her as being an African American in the ’60s. She’s very strong and willing to go for her dreams.”
The bunnies depicted on the Playboy Club all dawned the classic leotard style bunny suit with matching ears and tail. Naughton admitted that the hair and costumes was one of her main attractions to the role when she stated;
“When I first read the script, “The Playboy Club” was so intriguing because it was about the first Playboy Club that opened. It was nostalgic; it was going back to the fun times in the ’60s. The hair, the makeup and the bunny suit, of course — I was really attracted to the bunny suit. I mean, it looks amazing. I was like, Oh; I’d love to be able to rock that. Little did I know how tight it would be and how hard it is to wear that for hours on end. But also, with my role, she was different than just a regular girl of the ’60s. I think that she had something special. Brenda, she’s a go-getter and she feels like she can change the world. I was attracted to her sassiness, her confidence and sexiness. All of that is attractive and I couldn’t wait to play this role, so I really was excited when I got the part.”
When asked if she was required to maintain a special diet in order to maintain the role, Naturi simply replied;
“They (the producers) didn’t put us on anything. It was more self-imposed and doing everything in moderation and making sure that I was eating right and taking care of my body, which I do anyway. But knowing that I had to get into a corset, a tight, constricting bunny suit, I knew that I better keep it tight, gotta keep it right. So I work out and go to the gym, but I still enjoy my soul food and snacks. But I’m a pretty petite young woman, and I just do everything in moderation and make sure that I just keep everything together. Fortunately when I put on my bunny suit, it fits perfectly. I love the way it gives me curves and everything like that. These women of the ’60s, they were real women and I wanted to represent that.”
Veteran actress Jenifer Lewis, whom you might remember as Aunt Helen from The Fresh Prince of Bell-Air or her more recent roles in numerous Tyler Perry movies, also joins the cast as a seamstress for the club. When Naturi was asked how it was to work with such a seasoned professional, she replied;
“Jenifer Lewis is a true pleasure. I love her, and I love working with her. I worked with her before: she played my mom in “Hairspray” on Broadway. So we’ve known each other for a few years now and she’s like a second mom or an auntie. She makes me feel so proud to be a part of this, and I’m happy to have her on this show as well. And I learned so much from her, not just about this show or this role, but I’ve learned from her just in general, ’cause she’s been in this business for such a long time and she’s overcome so many different things that she inspires me to continue with my career. And hopefully I can say I’ve been an actress and been in this business for 30 years. But the chemistry is great. Jenifer is a blast! She’s a ‘keep it real, say what’s on your mind’ type of woman. And she keeps us laughing, she keeps the energy up and I enjoy working with her. I’m happy that we got a chance to reunite again on this project.”
Mrs. Lewis also shared kind words regarding her co-star Naturi in a recent interview with the Huffington Post where she expressed reasons why she enjoyed working with the young actress.
“Naturi Naughton comes in prepared. She’s such a professional, I admire that about her. She loves what she does and that shows. It shows every time she walks on the set, and I’m really proud of her. She’s a great singer, a fine actress, and I love her dearly.”
Playboy Club airs Mondays at 9pm – Will you be watching?