Mary J. Blige makes her debut as Monet in Power Book II: Ghost / Picture Credit: Starzplay
Mary J. Blige makes her debut as Monet in Power Book II: Ghost / Picture Credit: Starzplay

When it was revealed the Power universe would be expanding despite the original series coming to a close, fans were excited to see what creator Courtney A. Kemp had up her sleeve. Now there are just a few days to go until the premiere of Power Book II: Ghost, which will follow the future of the remaining St. Patrick family members, Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.) and Tasha (Naturi Naughton), along with introducing a whole bunch of new characters.

Playing one of those integral to the future of the show is the iconic Mary J. Blige. Here, she discusses the character, Monet, that she'll be playing, as well as the family unit that surrounds her, and much more.

I'm sure people are interested to know what drew you to become part of this extension of the Power universe?

Well, what drew me to become a part of this Power extension universe was Courtney [A. Kemp] and 50 [Cent, co-showrunner]. They approached me about being this character and finding this character and asked me did I know this person actually in my real life. So we had many discussions about how I grew up and the women that I grew up around and who I used to work for. I used to actually work for them and hang around them all the time. So it was Courtney and 50 who brought me in and asked me would I do it and I jumped at the chance. Of course I did.

If you could please describe a little bit about who Monet is in relation to Power?

Well, my character, Monet, she's a queen pin. She's a mother. She's a wife. But she's almost like a single mother because her husband is in prison almost for life. And just like every single mother I know she is fighting for her life, fighting for her kids’ life and a survivor. She's all about survival. So she's not playing games, she's hard on everyone and she's hard on her children, she's hard on herself, she's hard on her husband, she's hard on everyone because she's a woman out here in the world doing a man's job almost.

When Monet speaks you have to listen and you have to take direction. You can't go against what your character says. How is she able to run a family business like this and keeping everyone in check, everyone in line?

I think Monet is able to run a family business like this because she's built like this. I believe her back story is she was abandoned from her family. They kind of just threw her away so she had to figure out how to survive in the streets on her own and then the streets became her family. Her husband was already in the streets and he became her family. And when he went to jail she just took everything that she got from him and made it her own and now it's really about survival for her. So when a woman has to survive in a male-dominated world it gets ugly and violent and crazy. Especially when she has to protect her children and Monet's about protecting her children and her business. That's what's she all about.

I love the Tejada family and what they bring to this expansion of the Power universe. You, of course, being the head of the family. I would like to maybe talk a little bit about the relationship she has with some of her children. Each of them, they have their-, they bring some, a different viewpoint to the table. And I also love how they know enough for you to trust them to do the business and to be a family but there's also lessons that you always are trying to teach them to learn. And you put 'em in these positions where you know, Cane (Woody McClain) can do this because I trust him in this world. Things like that. So let's talk about Cane, what is the relationship between Monet and Cane in Power.

The relationship between Monet and Cane, her oldest son, is that he had to step up in his own mind and almost be like the man of the house. She allowed that in a way but she still was not having him overpowering her. He understands that Monet is Mom, but he's Cane and he protects them, protects the family and everything and she gives him enough rope to not hang himself in that area. So he's really, he's spoiled and he thinks he runs things, but Monet checks him. When Monet checks him he steps in line. So he's definitely the baby but not the baby. He's just the one that she depends on to bring the hammer when she needs it.

Picture Credit: Starzplay
Picture Credit: Starzplay

She knows that he can be trusted to be like the enforcer. So Cane is the enforcer of the family. She knows that she can trust him to do that type of work whereas someone like Zeke (Daniel Bellomy), let's talk about that relationship. Tariq is introduced to Zeke which therefore introduces the audience to the Tejada family. What's the relationship between Monet and Zeke about?

Zeke is, I believe, Monet's favourite nephew so he comes to stay with her. But he's a college kid so he ends up going to college and he wants to play ball and he's a dreamer, he wants to live out his dreams. He's nothing like Monet's children. So she really protects him because she loves him so much. She doesn't want him hurt so he can live out his dream which is play ball and finish college. And I don't want to jump ahead but Tariq is helping him with that dream by tutoring him.

I would like to talk about Dru (Lovell Adams-Gray) also. Dru is also an interesting family member. What is the relationship between Monet and Dru?

The relationship between Monet and Dru is that Dru is her baby boy. Her baby boy who is a dreamer. He is an artist. He wants more than just the drug game. And he also loves the same sex. He's a gay man. And Monet is fine with all of that. She just doesn't want him to get hurt because in the drug game if you're soft or if you're a dreamer like Dru you can end up getting murdered out there. She believes he knows what he taught her and what he's picked up from her from how she moves and how their father moved. But love can get him caught up. And he ends up falling in love with a guy and that's what she's worried about. She's worried that he can get caught up and killed. So she wants to keep him close to her. That's her baby boy.

Yes, and again to see a character like Cane be about the game and hard. And then Dru being the dreamer. You know, you get to see that nice dynamic between those two characters and especially how you mother them, too. And that's really, really great and another great character, last but not least, Diana. You know, there's a lot of similarities between, a woman in a man's game. Let's talk about the relationship between Monet and Diana  and how that dynamic comes into play.

The relationship between Monet and Diana, Diana is Monet's daughter (laughs). And she sees herself, I guess her young naive self, in Diana. But there's no time for that. She's hard on Diana 'cause she wants Diana to be a version of her which is a no-nonsense, no shit-talking, female out here, hustler. And she wants that for Diana and she doesn't want her to get caught so she's teaching her the game. She's teaching her how not to catch feelings and how not to fall in love with the people you're working with. And she just doesn't want Diana to get caught up in her either. Just like the rest of her children. But she's really hard on Diana because Diana will take over once Monet can't do it anymore.

I think it's important to show that entire body of work and how a mother is loving to all her children.

Right, but the girls get it the hardest from the mothers because they see themselves in them and they don't want them to make the mistakes that they made coming up. She wants Diana not to be hurt and not to end up the way she did. And have to do what she did. But do it better than she did.

And I want to also talk about the relationship with Lorenzo (Berto Colon). And if you could talk a little bit about that, that situation and how that comes into play in this season.

The relationship that Monet has with her husband Lorenzo I think is one that she doesn't have with anybody on the Earth because he's all that she’s ever trusted since she was abandoned by her own family. And he really, really loves every single thing about her. She really loves every single thing about him. And she trusts him more than anyone, anything on Earth because he never failed her. He never abandoned her. He just went to jail. So that's all she has. She doesn't trust anybody else, you know, her children, her husband, but her husband even more than her children.

Another individual who comes around the house is Officer Ramirez (Shalim Ortiz). So, if you could talk a little bit about the relationship between Officer Ramirez and Monet.

I think that the relationship that Monet has with Officer Ramirez is physical. It's not love. (laughs) It's just to fulfil her needs, sexually. And also it's one to protect her in the streets, as well, to fill her in on anything that's coming, anything that she needs to know about to make sure her children- 'cause she knows what her family is and she needs some kind of dirty cop on her team. So everything with Monet is strategy; love is strategy, sex is strategy and Ramirez is just another piece on the chess board for her.

So, I want to talk about Tasha (Naturi Naughton) and her character because there will be some conversations of these two strong women on screen and how they're very different and dynamic characters, but they also have different and unique ways of being a mother. Can you talk about some of the similarities and differences that they have when it comes to raising their children?

Naturi Naughton returns as Tasha St. Patrick in Power Book II: Ghost / Picture Credit: Starzplay
Naturi Naughton returns as Tasha St. Patrick in Power Book II: Ghost / Picture Credit: Starzplay

Well, the similarities are they're both about survival and fighting for their lives. But the difference is some people hide who they are and what they are from their children so that their children won't make the mistakes that they did. That's what Tasha has done with her children. Whereas Monet lets them see it all because she feels like if they're exposed to it they would know what not to do. And they would understand that the game is the game and this is how we play. And she's big on what she looks like to her children. She doesn't want to be, she always doesn't want to be looked at as a liar to them 'cause she told you everything, she showed you everything. So that's the difference. The difference is some people hide, some mothers hide to protect their children and some mothers let you see everything to protect her children.

In terms of look and tone with Monet, how much of your style and your fashion did you incorporate into this character?

In terms of look and style, Monet definitely has a lot of Mary J. Blige swag; what she would do with her hair, what she would do with her clothes because she's a fly chick. (laughs) So yeah, it's a lot of survival. Mary J. Blige is a survivor. And is all about, you know, fighting for her life. She's been fighting for her life all her life. And so it's a lot of similarities, a lot of things that I can pull from to give to Monet so she can fight.

Definitely. And I think that's the key. Well, on top of so many other things but that's the element right there that makes it real and believable and you're able to connect with people. So that's fantastic. This cast, the Power universe is filled with so much talent and so many amazing people. And Book II is no exception. When you heard or knew that Method Man was also becoming a part of this show what was your initial reaction to that?

When I heard that Meth was a part of this show I was excited because Method Man is an amazing-, not just an amazing MC, rapper, lyricist, he's an amazing actor as well. And to team up with him on this show and to have teamed up with him in the music business on one of the biggest songs ever in hip hop history is just major. It's a blessing to know someone that great. Someone that talented and someone that special and beautiful as a person.

That's great. I mean, it is just amazing people just working, having history and continuing to build on that legacy. And that's just beautiful.

Yeah, it's beautiful next level, we've worked together in the music business and now here we are building a whole other, actors and actresses.

Yes, definitely. And, and to touch on that, we are very fortunate to hear your story and to share your talents with the world. And it's touched so many people in so many different ways. When you are acting, how do you feel as that being an extension of your voice and of your talents? To have a platform that you have to be able to express your acting talents. How does that feel especially in Power Book II: Ghost?

Well, I feel really grateful to be able to express my acting talents anywhere in the world and especially on this show because I mean I gotta be one of the biggest fans of the show. I mean, from day one the show has moved me. I know every episode (laughs), just to be a part of it is like a dream come true. Wow, yeah, I'm very grateful and really humbled by the whole thing.

Power fans are very passionate, very vocal. They love the show very much and so, what can you say to those who are anticipating the premiere of Power Book II: Ghost? What can they expect to see in this iteration?

For all the fans that are diehard Power fans that are anticipating to see this show, you're definitely gonna see it's the same real, authentic, street stuff, but I think as far as from a woman's perspective and how it was Ghost and it was men, a lot of men, but this one leaning towards females this time and how hard it is for us. Like when I was growing up the women I hung out with they were these women. They were about protecting their families. They had businesses, they were queen pins and this is what this is about. And it's just as gritty and cutthroat and it's probably even more cause women are very dangerous when we're pushed up against the wall 'cause we have more to protect. And its not the same as Power but as far as, you know, the feeling and the quality, it's the same grit, the same darkness, the same murder, the same everything. (laughs)

Power Book II: Ghost premieres Sunday September 6th on Starzplay.

Tagged in