"It was a tumultuous breakup," Naturi Naughton says of her split from 3LW

By Robyn Merrett
September 09, 2020 10:00 AM
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Naturi Naughton is opening up about her "tumultuous" breakup with 3LW.

The Power star, 36, tells PEOPLE her upcoming album — which she is currently working on — will explore "some of the feelings I had after being ousted" from the girl group.

At just 15 years old, Naughton was a member of 3LW alongside Adrienne Bailon Houghton and Kiely Williams. The pop group rose to fame in the early 2000s and is most known for their hits "No More" and "Playas Gon' Play." Naughton left 3LW in 2002, telling MTV at the time that it was due to management, growing tension between the members and an alleged food fight that left her feeling "physically abused." Before Naughton's departure the group released the albums 3LW and A Girl Can Mack. 

"It was exciting, but also a little scary," Naughton says of being in 3LW.

She shares that although things "didn't work out," and she doesn't "talk to" Bailon or Williams anymore, she learned a lot from the experience.

"It was a tumultuous breakup. However, I do look back and remember, 'Oh, I was on the TRL tour, opening up for Destiny's Child,'" Naughton says.

Naturi Naughton
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"I think a lot of people that know me now, who even watch Power, don't realize how long my journey has been. This has been since I was 15 and I've been in the business for 20 years. I look back at that experience of being in a girl group, although it had some learning experiences that were growing pains, it just showed me what it takes to make it in this industry," Naughton explains.

Naughton says she also learned to "make sure you don't get into business with people that you don't know and trust."

"Trust is a huge part of it and I think in that group things just didn't go right," Naughton adds.

After 3LW, Naughton attended Seton Hall University, where she studied political science. Her former group members went on to join the Cheetah Girls.

Naturi Naughton and 3LW
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Although Naughton and her former girl group members are no longer close, she and Bailon were able to make amends a few years back. During a 2017 appearance on The Real, Bailon, 36, apologized to Naughton for the way things ended, saying: "I genuinely from the bottom of my heart never meant any harm towards you. I think you're talented and beautiful."

From Seton Hall, Naughton got her big break when she starred in Hairspray on Broadway. It was then that she transitioned into acting, later landing the role of Tasha St. Patrick on Power.

Now, with six seasons under her belt and the spinoff Power Book II: Ghost (which premiered on Sept. 6), Naughton, who is mom to a 3-year-old daughter, Zuri, is getting back to her first love: music.

Naughton's delight in singing started at an early age when she joined the choir of her home church in East Orange, New Jersey.

"I found myself in the church choir at 5 years old. I was a very outgoing kid. I liked being the center of attention," Naughton shares.

Naturi Naughton
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Naughton says her upcoming album will be "R&B fused with a little bit of that hip hop, swag but done in a way where we can turn up and still hear real music."

"I want to bring back that '90s era vibe with people really singing. I'm excited to just tell my story through song because a lot the songs I d talk about feelings I had after being ousted from 3LW," Naughton explains.

For the project, Naughton is working with producer Troy Taylor, whom she says is the "Mayor of R&B."

Taylor has worked with Trey Songz and Naughton's childhood idol Whitney Houston.

"I knew that I wanted to be a star, and she was a Black woman who was from where I'm from. She really moved me to think, 'Wow this is possible,'" Naughton says of the late singer.

Naughton has not yet announced a release date for her album.

For more from Naturi Naughton, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.