Naturi Naughton Opens Up About Life as a Single Mom: 'It's Hard Work' but 'I Love' It

"It is a challenging balance," Naturi Naughton tells PEOPLE of juggling motherhood and her career

Naturi Naughton loves being a mom, but admits it's "hard work."

The Power star, 36, is preparing to open up about her parenthood journey, telling PEOPLE that her upcoming album, which she is currently working on with producer Troy Taylor, will highlight "some of the emotional struggles I have as being a single mother."

Naughton welcomed daughter Zuri in July 2017 with her ex, whom she refers to only as Ben. The former couple split shortly after Zuri's arrival and Naughton has since been balancing being a mother and her bustling career.

"I love being a mother," Naughton says. "It's hard work. It is a challenging balance."

Naughton, who plays Tasha St. Patrick in the hit Starz series and its spinoff Power Book II: Ghost (which premiered on Sept. 6), shares, however, that Zuri makes the constant juggling all worth it.

"I do try and make sure I separate the two," Naughton says of being a mother and working as an actress. "When I come home after shooting a long day, it's almost like taking off the luggage of that and then I go straight into Mommy."

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Naturi Naughton and her daughter Zuri.

"I am just Mommy. I'm not Tasha. I'm not Naturi Naughton," she tells PEOPLE. "I just get to be mommy and that actually is really liberating because that little girl just sees me as just perfection."

"Literally no matter what I'm wearing or what my hair looks like when I wake up with her she's just like, 'Mommy, you look so pretty.' I'm like, 'Really? Mommy is a mess.' But to her she sees nothing but beauty and that's honestly amazing."

Naughton also opens up about raising a toddler amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and how she encourages her daughter to wear a mask.

"I think it's hard for a 3 year old who just wants to go out and run freely, but now she started noticing like, 'Oh mommy, I don't have my mask. I have to have my mask,' " Naughton says.

"I'm like, 'Oh, she's getting it.' But that sucks. I have to kind of curtail her playing with other kids or other people. I can't just let her be free and that's part of what being a child is. So, I do feel bad, but I also have to protect her," Naughton adds.

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Naturi Naughton. Daniele Venturelli/Getty

Naughton shares her upcoming album will not only explore her experience as a mother, but also "some of the feelings I had after being ousted" from 3LW.

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.

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.

"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.

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

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