"They did not see me as mature enough for the role of Tasha because she was written to be five years older," Naturi Naughton says

By Robyn Merrett
September 13, 2020 10:00 AM
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Though Naturi Naughton is known for her role as Tasha St. Patrick on Power, the actress almost didn't play the part.

While it's hard to picture anyone else in the role, Naughton, 36, tells PEOPLE that producers of the hit Starz series didn't initially think she was a fit to play the wife of James "Ghost" St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), a New York dealer turned political leader.

However, not taking no for an answer, Naughton "fought" for the part — and ultimately, it became hers. "It was not easy," Naughton shares. "They did not see me as mature enough for the role of Tasha because she was written to be five years older."

"Thank God Courtney [Kemp] decided I was so right for the essence of the character that she made her four years younger than Ghost. The character was originally written to be the same age as Ghost. Now, Tasha in the story is younger than him and they are five years apart," Naughton explains.

Naturi Naughton in Power
| Credit: Starz
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"I fought for that part. I'll just say I went in, auditioned and chemistry tested. It took me about four auditions to get that part. People think, 'Oh, you just got a part.' No. You literally have to keep proving to people and I did it," she says. "I fought big."

Naughton gave the audition her all, even buying a white BCBG Max Azria bandage dress and wearing five-inch heels for the big day — an outfit that has become her character's signature look.

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"My body looked amazing," Naughton tells PEOPLE. "I had everything. I wore it to the audition with five-inch heels and I was like, 'Okay, you want to see woman? I'm going to give you woman. You're going to hear me roar.' "

"That helped me get the part," Naughton adds.

And scoring the role couldn't have come at a better time for the actress. "I was actually struggling at that time," the mom of one says. "I was living in a one-bedroom apartment. I was renting. I didn't have a job at that time and I really needed a job."

Omari Hardwick and Naturi Naughton in Power

"Then, my agency called just as they normally would and said, 'You got an audition for a show called Power.' They told me at the time it was executive-produced by 50 Cent and Courtney Kemp and I was like, 'Okay, this sounds cool. I'm going to go hard. I'm going to try and get this,' " Naughton recalls.

She has starred in the role for all six seasons of Power since its debut in 2014, and fans will get to see Tasha's journey continue in the spinoff Power Book II: Ghost, which picks up after Ghost's death. (The show premiered Sept. 6.) The original series followed Ghost as he tried to explore opportunities outside of the drug world — tearing apart his family along the way.

"My favorite part about playing [Tasha] is how strong she is and how much of a survivor she is," Naughton says. "I think she's a badass and I've enjoyed playing opposite Omari Hardwick as his TV wife."

Of the spinoff, Naughton teases, "You guys will see a whole other side of Tasha."

Currently, Tasha is in prison for killing Ghost — although she is not the one who pulled the trigger. As fans know, Tasha and Ghost's son Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.) fatally shot the former drug dealer inside his club, Truth.

"Tasha has to really break down because it's been so much on her shoulders," Naughton says, adding that her character can only carry "that weight and that pressure" for so long.

Naturi Naughton in Power Book II: Ghost
| Credit: Myles Aronowitz/Starz

"I think once you see Ghost, you will see Tasha really show vulnerability," Naughton explains.

The star also believes that Tasha "represents the weight that is put on the Black women in this country."

"I think Tasha connects to us so deeply, because she's always projected to be this strong, got-it-together woman, but we never see her just have a moment. When you do get to see it in this new season, you're almost relieved that she's letting a little bit of all that go. We as Black women don't have to be strong and perfect all the time," she adds.

Additionally, Naughton feels Tasha's "humanity" will help women, particularly women of color.

"We can still support our children and still have vulnerability. We can still be great wives, but still be okay with putting yourself first. For a long time, Tasha was like, 'I need to do what's best for the family, for Ghost.' None of that now. She is now like, 'I need to do what's best for me.' "

Power Book II: Ghost airs Sundays at 9.m. ET on Starz.