About Naturi Naughton
Naturi Cora Maria Naughton was born in East Orange, NJ on May 20, 1984. Music became a part of her life at an early age, singing with the New Hope Baptist church choir at just five years old. "Growing up, I always knew I would be a singer and actress," she said. "My friends used to say, 'Naturi, you're so dramatic!' and I would say, 'Thank you!'" Naughton attended St. Joseph's Catholic School before being discovered by local talent agents who booked her to sing the national anthem at various events throughout the Garden State.
When she was 15, Naughton joined singers Adrienne Bailon and Kiely Williams to form the musical trio, 3LW, which stood for "Three Little Women." Their first single "No More (Baby I'm A Do Right)" was released in 2000, followed by another successful single "Playas Gon' Play" in 2001. 3LW's self-titled debut album went platinum in 2001; the same year they toured alongside other hit-making R&B and hip-hop acts such as Destiny's Child, Nelly, and Eve for MTV's "TRL" tour.
It seemed 3LW was on its way to becoming one of the top musical groups of the new millennium, until their second album A Girl Can Mack (2002) failed to hit the mark set by their debut. That same year, Naughton announced she was no longer part of the group, citing the other girls and their management had forced her out. In August 2002, during a heated argument at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, Naughton claimed Williams allegedly threw a hot plate of food at her even though she was trying to make amends, marking her official departure from the group. 3LW replaced Naughton with Jessica Benson, but the group fizzled out when Bailon and Williams signed on for Disney's "The Cheetah Girls."
After leaving 3LW, Naughton focused on her education and pursuing a solo career. She attended Seton Hall University, majoring in political science and receiving top honors. From 2005 to 2008, she starred in the Tony Award-winning musical "Hairspray" on Broadway, playing Little Inez. Naughton said being on Broadway was a blessed experience and credited her later acting success to the arduous schedule and fast learning curve of "Hairspray."
Naughton made headlines in 2008, playing controversial and enigmatic rapper Lil' Kim in "Notorious." The biopic about slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. drew criticism from the hip-hop community, including Lil' Kim, who slammed Naughton's portrayal of her in the film. "Watching [Naughton] onscreen was so 'dreadful' as Simon Cowell would say," the rapper stated. "She is tasteless and talentless. Never once did she contact me for input or to get a feel of me for the character." Naughton responded by saying she studied Kim's life for the role, including spending time in the Brooklyn neighborhood where the rapper grew up. The fighting words from Kim did not affect "Notorious" from performing well at the box office, opening to $21 million its first weekend.
In 2009, Naughton landed another high-profile role - playing singer-pianist Denise in "Fame," a retelling of the 1980 musical film about a group of talented students at New York's High School of Performing Arts. In addition to belting out the iconic title song, Naughton also performed the other Irene Cara hit from the film, "Out Here On My Own." "The pressure is on," Naughton said prior to the film's September 2009 release. "But for me, it's an opportunity." Naughton was the resident vocalist-pianist of the cast that included up-and-comers Asher Book and Kay Panabaker, as well as seasoned "Fame" veteran actor-choreographer Debbie Allen, as well as comic actors Kelsey Grammer and Megan Mullally.
|Seton Hall University|
|Began singing with the New Hope Baptist church choir|
|Formed the musical group 3LW, which stood for Three Little Women, with Adrienne Bailon and Kiely Williams; released their self-titled debut album and first single "No More (Baby I'm A Do Right)" in 2000|
|3LW embarked on the "MTV Total Request Live" tour along with Destiny's Child, Dream, Nelly, Eve, and Jessica Simpson|
|3LW released second album, "A Girl Can Mack," but shortly after, Naughton announced she was no longer a member of the group; Naughton claimed Williams allegedly threw a hot plate of food at her during a heated argument at Kentucky Fried Chicken; group replaced Naughton with Jessica Benson|
|Played Little Inez on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning musical "Hairspray"|
|Cast as musical artist Lil Kim in controversial biopic "Notorious," about slain rapper Notorious B.I.G.|
|Played an aspiring singer-pianist in the remake of "Fame"; film also starred Kay Panabaker, Megan Mullally, and Kelsey Grammer|
|Co-starred opposite Bow Wow and Ice Cube in the comedy "Lottery Ticket"|
|Cast on NBC's 1960s drama "The Playboy Club" as Bunny Brenda, a woman seeking to be the first African-American Playboy Playmate|