From the famed words of Hamlet’s soliloquy, playwright Williams Shakespeare offers, “perchance to dream; Ay there’s the rub.” And for New Jersey born actress making her return to television on Lifetime’s The Client List, Naturi Naughton considers the “chance to work with veterans like Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Cybil Sheppard, Loretta Devine … a dream come true.”
In not exactly the Shakespearean understanding of the phrase “the rub,” Naughton’s acting dream will continue to flourish in The Rub, the Sugarland, Texas based spa that is the central place of her employment in the new Lifetime drama. “It’s kind of underground, very provocative and very classy and fun,” says Naughton furthering the spa’s description as the place where “all these women learn from each other and we’re encouraged by each other and all the things that Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character goes through; we get a chance to kind of be therapy for her and vice versa.”
The actress last seen as Bunny Brenda on the short-lived NBC’s Playboy Club, will now portray Kendra, a spa girl masseuse who Naughton describes as a “young very optimistic sometimes naïve girl from Beaumont, Texas.” Fans familiar with watching the actress’ past character portrayals, will be surprised to now to “hear” her deliver “this Texas southern belle girl which is so opposite of Naturi which is the Jersey city girl.” Naughton, who reveals she “spent about three weeks, talked to people, young women, listened to their pattern of speech, listened to some of the things that are important to women there, so I brought that to the show,” comically jumps into her character’s southern dialect saying, “I just went with it and had a good time. I went to Texas and did a bunch of research and everything!”
And is so doing, she explains that of The Client List “one thing I think people should expect is a fun dramatic show, but also keeping it light and keeping fun for women and so many different people,” adding of her character, “I get a chance to be quirky and totally different; Kendra is full of energy, she’s a nervous wreck whenever something is going wrong but she’s extremely positive.”
But for those of you requiring drama, who perhaps want to sink deeper into the darkness of Hamlet’s soliloquy and question “whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them,” then fret not as Naughton informs “it’s a drama …[and] we’re going to go to the dark side ...[but] we find a way to integrate the dark side of the drama by making each character a fun personality… and it’s not as dark as you might assume although they are some dramatic scenes, it’s more light.”
The series will reunite Naughton with her Lottery Ticket film cast mate, veteran actress Loretta Devine appearing as Georgia, the owner of The Rub, who Naughton depicts as “somewhat of a mother figure for all the spa girls.” Both Naughton and Devine are new character additions to the series which ‘is going to take what the movie was, just to the next level which is creating different characters, bring in more people,” explains Naughton.
First appearing as a Lifetime original movie in 2010, The Client List depicts the struggle of a married Texas starlet Riley Parks (Jennifer Love-Hewitt) in dire economic straits faced with the moral dilemma of discovering The Rub to be a front for a high-end prostitution service. “I think the ‘relatability’ of how these woman I trying to make it on their own and trying to find themselves and their own value is something that people can connect to and relate to; just trying to find your way in life, and I think a lot of people are struggling with that especially with the economy,” believes Naughton. Where the show will assuredly test the moral compasses of it’s character’s situational circumstances, Naughton hopes viewers will see, “the connection to the fact that everyone is struggling [with] financial issues … [and] may be put in some very challenging decisions and [have] to make difficult choices.”
Perhaps in what can be construed as social commentary bringing light to what is done in the mood-relaxing, dimly lit rooms of The Rub, is where The Client List may strike its strongest chord challenging audiences to examine themselves facing similar consequences before bestowing judgment. “It’s going to basically showcase that everyone I think has a dark side….[and]…. there’s always something one can be ashamed of, and you can’t just put it all on the girls at The Rub,” states Naughton.
And showcasing her acting talents for a number of years, Naughton has nothing to be ashamed of boasting a young, formidable resume of screen credits which include her acclaimed portrayal of Lil’Kim in the biopic of slain rapper Biggie Smalls in Notorious, the pianist Denise in the 1980 movie remake of Fame and the aforementioned Lottery Ticket opposite Bow Wow and Brandon T. Jackson. “I definitely like the fact that I have been able to project a sexy confident strong woman in a lot of my roles; and being a woman, it’s nice to be able to embrace that side of yourself, but being an African-American woman, especially, it’s exciting to have roles that create us in dimensions, we’re not just one way, and Black women need to be seen in so many different shapes and forms and beauty,” expressed Naughton adding, “I embrace the sexiness, I embrace beauty, because that’s something that women possess and why shy away from it? And as a Black woman, I think the more opportunities to showcase all of our beauty in all of the dimensions that we possess is a blessing so I’m grateful to be able to do roles that allow me to bring that side out.”
Naturi Naughton’ role as Kendra on The Client List can start to be “embraced” beginning this Sunday April 8th at 10/9pm Central on the Lifetime network. And of the show that has more than a few “happy endings,” Naturi says, “It’s a fun show but it’s also something a little edgy and something different with some good substance.”
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