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

Fans of critically-acclaimed series Power were disappointed to see the show come to an end with its sixth season, but not for long! Showrunners Courtney A. Kemp and 50 Cent quickly revealed that there would be a handful of spin-offs all set in the Power universe.

The first, Power Book II: Ghost, will not only introduce a whole bunch of new characters, including Mary J. Blige's Monet, but will see returning faces such as Michael Rainey Jr. as Tariq St. Patrick and Naturi Naughton, as his mother Tasha.

Ahead of the premiere, Naughton sat down to chat all about her character's story arc, following her arrest for the murder of her estranged husband Jamie St. Patrick, aka Ghost (Omari Hardwick) at the end of the original series.

If you could describe where we find Tasha at the start of Power Book II: Ghost and some of the challenges she faces.

Ooh. (laughs) Where do we find Tasha? At the beginning of Power Book II: Ghost, I mean, obviously she's in jail. As many of you have seen at the end of last season. Tasha goes down for the murder of Ghost. And so when you start this, it literally picks up a day, two days, 48 hours after she has been incarcerated. She is so broken.

And really hurting that she had to leave her children. She's scared. And really I think initially just confused in how she's gonna get out of this one. Because she doesn't want Tariq to go down, but she also doesn't want herself to be in prison for this murder.

It's a huge sacrifice she's making...

Typical mothers. A mother's love. Shana Stein (executive producer and director) and I always joke around like last season she was like, this show should be called A Mother's Love. Or A Mother's Fear. (laughs) It's just funny because it's true. Everything that Tasha's willing to sacrifice, which is her own life is truly what I think many mothers would sacrifice, you know?

Definitely. And it's one of the many reasons why viewers always gravitate to your character because of the love. It's a believable character so that's a testament to you and your wonderful acting. And I'm still touched by the series finale and all of that.

Thank you. It was emotional. Watching, whoo, the series finale, 615, I mean, was super emotional. We had a big event at Paley Center and all the cast was there. Most of us. And it was just really deep to watch. And thank you for saying that 'cause Tasha's journey has been a journey of a lot of tension. It's been tumultuous. It's been up and down. 

There's been love interests, most of them get killed. And now for Ghost to be gone it's surreal. And for Tasha to be in jail and Tariq's going to school, it's like the world is completely flipped on its head.

Definitely. And you talked a little bit about jail, but we've seen a St. Patrick before in prison. And get to see you in that as well...

Mm-hmm. Tariq has had both his parents in prison. Goddamn. This is a rough year for him. Can he get a break? I mean, Ghost was in prison in, I think, Season 3. And maybe parts of 4. I think it was Season 3. And now Tasha is right behind him in jail.

What was it like having this character when you are in the jumpsuit? In jail? What was that like for you to finally see and be in that environment?

You know what's funny? It was so vulnerable. I felt like, naked. Without my Tasha armour of the wigs, the hair, you know, the makeup, the high heels, the sexy Tom Ford dresses and Alexander McQueen and Louboutin's. It's a little weird for Tasha to not be, you know, the queen of the castle. And for her to be in that jumpsuit the first time I had to step into it and look at myself with the braids and the jumpsuit, it was really a vulnerable feeling. 

And I felt stripped down, which is actually what she should feel like. So for me as an actress, I was excited just to get to play something, you know, gritty and dark and raw and real. And although Tasha has been all those things, but she's always had the armour of her attire and her look and keeping it all together. This is the first time you get to see Tasha completely unravel. And I think it's a great thing to do.

Let’s move on here. Not only is Tasha dealing with jail away from her son as he's starting college, but she's also dealing with a big loss in her life. I mean, what is the mindset of her in relation to losing Ghost?

Yeah. I think Tasha losing Ghost doesn't really hit her until a little later. You know, I think that at first she feels like we gotta do what we gotta do. He's gonna turn Tariq in. He's gonna turn me in for LaKeisha (La La Anthony). We have no other choice. But at the same time, keep in mind, Tasha really loved this man. Tasha spent years in a marriage with this man. Tasha has three children, one of them has been killed, with this man. 

So we've gone through a lot together. So even when you think you hate someone and you don't wanna ever see them again, which was what Tasha says, I think seeing him, you know, dead and especially by the hands of his son; it's tragic. It is tragic. And it makes for good TV, but I think Tasha is just like oh my gosh, I've not only lost my freedom, I lost the man that I married, you know.

However messed up heis, he's still my husband. And I've now lost my son to the fact that he would never be the same boy that he used to be. This is the second time he's been in a situation where he's killed Ray Ray (Marcus Callender). And now he has shot his own father. So I mean, how do you feel good? It's not like yeah, the witch is dead. It's literally like okay, this happened. It had to be done. But it's I think it's still a sense of mourning in a way that I think any person would feel.

It is definitely also a sad reminder of you trying to do everything you can to protect your son and then having this outcome. It's gotta be really tough for your character to be in that cell and kind of sit there and just...

Absolutely. I think when you've done all you can sometimes, there's a Gospel song, Donnie McClurkin, when you've done everything you can, you just stand. And I think at this point she knows she's in prison, she really can't do anything as much as she would if she was on the outside. She's reflecting. She's angry. Even mad at Ghost. I mean, how dare he not leave me anything in the will? I mean, there's so many things.

In the series finale, I was watching it like goddang, Tasha has been through it all. Not only did I have to suffer through you cheating with the feds by the way, you had to pick Angela? Like you couldn't be with anybody just regular that's not gonna try to arrest us? But I think that it just hits Tasha that she's always been the strong one and that sometimes it's exhausting being the strong one. It's hard being the mother, the wife, just holding it down, the criminal and the protector. And I think she's definitely feeling a little bit like, what else can I do? But I think she starts to gain her strength as the season progresses. She finds some relationship and allies and she becomes a boss in her own right. That's just Tasha.

Michael Rainey, Jr., what can we say about this young man?

Naturi Naughton stars alongside Michael Rainey Jr. as Tasha and Tariq St. Patrick in Power Book II: Ghost / Picture: StarzPlay
Naturi Naughton stars alongside Michael Rainey Jr. as Tasha and Tariq St. Patrick in Power Book II: Ghost / Picture: StarzPlay

Michael Rainey has grown up so much on this show. I can't even believe that's my child, my son. When you think back to Season 1, I think he was like 12. (laughs) Now he think he grown! And I'm like, no, you could still get it. But! (laughs) But I'm so proud of him. Michael Rainey Jr., is killing it. Particularly in the series finale of Power.

I was just so blown away by his performance. And him and Omari worked so well together in a lot of those father-son moments. Down to the shooting. I mean, it's really emotional to watch. It makes me proud as a TV Mom. I'm sure his real Mom is proud. And I'm just happy to see his growth. He's killing it in Ghost. I think he's stepped into his manhood in a beautiful way.

And I can't wait for the rest of the industry and the world to see what happens in Ghost and he has a whole world; the young people in college, it gets crazy. But it's an interesting world that I think people will relate to and see him in his own right as his own Ghost. He's creating the Ghost within him. Which is really his father. So even though he despised him, he really became him. And that often happens, you know?

Definitely. I loved how when we spoke earlier in the season, how you said the way that you have to mother Tariq is gonna be different this season for more reasons than one. Talk to me a little bit about that.

Okay. Well with this show, with Ghost, the way that Tasha has to mother is really more like a partnership. You know, she has made a conscious decision to say at the end of the last (episode of) Power, she says, look I'm-a teach you the game. I'm not gonna have you out here doing it wrong so you can get shot and killed. So by now she's like, look, we're partners. Even though it's some criminal conspiring together, even down to Tasha's trial and the court and she's calling her son for advisement.

She's making sure he's getting information like yo, look out for this. They've really become more than mother-son, they've become partners in a way where they go forward to protect each other at all costs. And I think it's amazing writing honestly. It's crazy.

Some of the most memorable scenes in Power took place inside a courtroom. You know, we got to see a lot of back and forth, a lot of situations where the stakes were very high. And Power  Book II: Ghost is no exception. And we have some serious things that occur in the courtroom early on. Can we talk about a little bit about Mister Davis Maclean (Method Man) and what he brings to this universe now?

Aw, I get so excited to talk about Method Man's character, Davis Maclean. Uh, you know, of course there's gonna be some dramatic moments in the courtroom because he's playing my lawyer. And Tasha and Davis are partners with a lot of suspicion. (laughs) We don't really know each other. He doesn't know me. I don't know him. But I need him because he is the best of the best. He's like Johnnie Cochran of today. And, at the same time, he's looking at me as a big case to win so that he can continue to build his profile.

So we're partners, but I don't really know you like that. And there's some really great moments that Davis and I get to have. Davis in the courtroom. Different testimonies come up. There's an interesting mock trial that happens that I think is really great. Because he's always testing me. You know, Davis is pushing Tasha so that she can be ready for whatever's gonna happen in court. And Tasha thinks she's ready, but she's not. Not the way she thinks.

I think Davis is the first time that she starts to see like, oh shit, maybe I need help. Maybe this isn't gonna go the way I thought it was gonna go. And played with perfection, the character's played by Method Man. Who I've been a fan of since I was a kid really. He is killing it. And we've become truly like brother and sister. I love working with Method Man.

Like I'm-a say this to the camera, I love working with you. I love working with you. Because he is not only fun, he has great energy, he comes in, knows his lines, super focused. Brings Davis out in such a real way. But he's also very cute. He's looking good in his suits.

Will Tasha go down for life in Power Book II: Ghost? / Picture: StarzPlay
Will Tasha go down for life in Power Book II: Ghost? / Picture: StarzPlay

The camaraderie, the bond that you guys have formed so quickly, uh, it’s...

Yes, it's crazy. It's like magnets. I feel like truly he's become like a brother. And even off the set, when the announcements came out we were texting and we're working on music together outside of the show. He’s just really lifted me up because it's hard missing Omari Hardwick. It's hard not having my TV husband, even through the arguments and all that, he and I started this show together.

So as far as having that strong male figure around - and he's a little older than me, I really respect and admire his tenacity. Similar to Omari, I feel like I've been given another strong man that lifts me up, protects me. Anywhere we go I see him be like, 'make sure Naturi's good. Y'all better make sure. This the queen right here.' That's what Method always says like, 'you see what she doing?' You see this work.

He'll interrupt a scene and be like, 'damn, she good'. And I'm like, Method, we're still acting. (laughs) 'Don't say that!' But, um, yeah, he's great. I love working with Meth.

Talk about new faces. Let's maybe go a little bit in detail because we gave Method Man some love, rightfully so. We can't forget Mary J. Blige.

Queen. Oh yes.

What was your reaction when you heard she was cast?

I was so excited. First off, can I just say, real love. Hey, okay. Mary J. Blige is like a legend. And no, not like, she is a legend. (laughs) And the fact that she was willing, able and open to joining the Power universe made me feel so excited. I think she's beautiful. She's talented. And she's killing it on our show. She kind of brings again that strong female queen-like energy.

I just saw her not too long ago, we were doing some photos together for the press shoot and I'm just in awe that I'm standing back to back with Mary J. Blige in a picture for a post. Like what? This is like a dream. Because me at 10 years old, rocking out to Mary or trying to get the glasses and the wigs, I always wanted to aspire to have a career like hers.

So I was amped and excited. And I was just like, really? How did we get her? Like she got time. I was really shocked and excited when they initially told us. Then now we see each other at table reads again just like Method Man, she's been nothing but warm and just all love. She sent me some jewellery, her Sister Love Hoops.

And I rock her earrings. It's just truly surreal. When you think about how we started as this baby show on a network that people didn't know about. And people were like Power who? Starzwhat? And (laughs) now we are, one of the number one shows on cable starring Mary J. Blige and I get to be in it too? I'm just glad they didn't kill me yet. Whoo. 'Cause just keep me alive a couple more years so I can have some fun with Mary. 'Cause she's great. And I'm honoured to be working with her.

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

I wanna talk a little bit about the Tejada Family, because in relation to Mary J.'s character, Monet, and Tariq because he's kind of gravitated towards that family. Teasing of course; will this family be a threat or an ally to both Tasha and Tariq?

Yeah. The Tejada Family is a whole 'nother world separate that I have nothing to do with right now. But my son has everything to do with it, so I got something to do with it. And Tariq is gravitating towards them, but I don't know that yet. I think as the season progresses and as many of the viewers will see, that's a threat to me. Because I don't know if I can trust Monet and the Tejada Family.

I don't know that they're not trying to corrupt Tariq more than he's already been corrupted by Kanan (50 Cent). This could be another Kanan situation. It could be another Jukebox (Anika Noni Rose). We don't know. So I don't want anybody getting too close and knowing too much because with that information comes a risk. And with that risk, there's problems like, what do I need to do to protect Tariq?

So with that whole side of it, I think as the season progresses we will see that there's gonna be some conflict and there is definitely tension because I don't know particularly if Monet is trying to take my son away from me. And make him into something that I didn't want him to be in the first place. I'm just trying to protect and guide him, but I want him to go to school and focus on school for real. And all these other influences keep pulling him back into a world that could kill him.

Sometimes spin-off - that word, that term - kind of gets people a little concerned. What can you say to them?

Yeah. You know, people are always a little leery when there's something new. People always get a little like 'mm, that ain't my show. Bring back my Power'. (laughs) Hashtag Power Never Ends, people! Breathe. It's gonna be okay. We're gonna work through it. But I do understand the fans being apprehensive or frustrated or missing their favourites or all those things. But that's the beauty of when you grow, you grow into something new. You grow with characters. You discover new people.

It's literally just like you don't wanna leave high school when you graduate and you're like, 'oh I don't wanna leave my friends'. But then when you get to college, you're like, 'oh this is lit. I'm so glad I'm here and not in high school'. But when you're in high school, you think I don't want this to end, right? But that's a part of life. And just like the world in real life, the world of television has to evolve. We can't stay in one spot. And I think our writers and producers thankfully are still the same team.

So, you can expect the same quality. You can expect the same drama. And, you know, the same crazy storylines and new characters and old characters might pop up on you. Don't think that they won't. So, as you're watching, keep an open mind and remember, this is just really taking the world of Power a step further. It's the next chapter, but we still in the same book. So it's gonna be okay.

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

MORE: Mary J. Blige discusses her Power Book II: Ghost character Monet

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