‘Queens’ features actors with strong musical backgrounds
ABC’s new drama, “Queens,” is built around the idea that four women who dominated the music world in the ’90s came together to try to recapture the glory and arrogance that came from to be legends in the hip-hop world.
Their popularity skyrocketed with the success of their chart-topping single, âNasty Girlâ. At one point, they were considered one of the greatest girl groups of their generation. Not all successes could counter the internal conflict and jealousy that sent them in different directions.
It would have been easy to pick four actors to play the roles and add the music later. Instead, the cast of âQueensâ are loaded with performers who bring musical backgrounds to the series.
Eve is a Grammy winner who has released four multi-million selling albums and 32 singles while Brandy has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. Naturi Naughton was a member of the 3LW pop trio before starting to work heavily in television and film.
This rich recording history will result in a series that will not only be about the music, but will also focus on the people behind the tunes.
Eve – who plays Brianna aka Professor Sex – says, âI think what we want to convey is that we want to bring art back to hip-hop. We want to bring back these amazing stories. We want to bring back the lyricism, which has always attracted me as an MC.
âAnd really rap means rhythm and poetry. You know what I mean? We want to give emotion and really show how skillful hip-hop can be, it was, depending on who the artist is.
Not only does Eve bring a solid musical element to the group, but she has also developed her acting skills with a long list of TV and movie credits that include her own eponymous comedy series as well as “Barbershop” and “Whip It”.
Naughton was also able to write an acting resume to accompany her singing career. She has appeared in such series as “Power”, “Power Book II: Ghost” and “The Client List”.
It took a few tweaks to get Naughton on the same musical page as the rest of the cast. She didn’t bring a big rap story to the project.
Naughton – whose character is Jill aka Da Thrill – says, âA lot of people underestimate how much it takes to rap. Obviously, I’m more of a singer. As a singer, you need breath control and rhythm. But I’ve played a hip-hop rapper before.
âPlaying that character taught me – I literally bow down to all the rappers dancing, performing, killing him. Because at the end of the day I’m like ‘Phew, I have to get in shape. That’s a lot. working. “
Brandy has had almost as much success in the theater world as she has had as a recording artist. She starred in her own longtime series, “Brandy”, and appeared in numerous films. In “Queens”, she plays Naomi aka Xplicit Lyrics.
The rap part of the role makes Brandy very happy because she has described herself as a “hip-hop head” since the 90s. She finds rap more difficult to play but loves challenges.
Nadine Velazquez is the only member of the group who does not bring musical history to the show. But, she makes up for that with extensive acting experience, including the role of Catalina in the NBC comedy “My Name Is Earl”. His other credits include “Snitch”, “Hart of Dixie”, “Major Crimes” and “Love Is a Four Letter Word”.
She tackles the musical demands of portraying Valeria aka Butter Pecan in the same way she tackles any part of an acting role.
Valazquez says: âI never raped before the show. Never. Not once. And I like it. I just like finding and listening to music and studying rappers now and just hearing different things that I didn’t hear before.
“So it takes a lot of my ability to act because I don’t really shoot anything other than that.”
These actors / singers are called to tell a story – according to executive producer Zahir McGhee – it’s a character drama about women looking for a second chance.
McGhee adds, âWhat makes it special and the right time now is that, number one, we have a lot of real people doing it back then, which gives it a certain level of authenticity.
âAnd on this network, and in most places, we don’t have a show where you can have five women of color and a man of color in the foreground. It’s just not common on ABC and not common in broadcast media. And we have the opportunity to tell a whole series of stories about the experience of women of color and black women in this country, which is not the pressure of Eve who has to be the only black character to say the thing that matters.
âQueensâ debuts at 10 p.m. Oct. 19 on ABC.