Who can forget 3LW, The Three Little Women? Ok maybe you can’t remember a single lyric—but you surely remember the beef.
The former girl group became notorious for a royal, Destiny’s Child-style dismissal of 1/3 of the team, Naturi Naughton.
It was the 2002nd year of our Lord. George W. Bush was in office, the tragic 9/11 as a full year behind us, Whitney Houston infamously told Diane Sawyer and all of earth “Crack is wack!”, ‘American Idol’ came to our TV sets.
And Naturi Naughton had KFC thrown in her face. Macaroni and mashed potatoes, included.
She was unceremoniously kicked out of 3LW just before the release of the group’s sophomore album after a spat with management. Management being Michelle Williams, mother of the group’s lead Kiely Williams.
“There was an argument between me and Michelle [Williams],” the then 18-year-old Naughton told MTV about the unfortunate incident.
“Kiely and Adrienne [Bailon] are cursing me out, and before I know it, Kiely throws her plate of food all in my face, mashed potatoes, macaroni all in my hair, down my clothes, messing up my hairdo!”
The New Jersey native told the network, “Nobody has the right to hit me. That’s not what I’m here for.”
In a statement released just before their CD A Girl Can Mack hit shelves at The Virgin Store (it was still open then) Williams and Bailon denied everything.
“We’ve been disappointed by the comments Naturi has made…like most girlfriends, we’ve had our share of differences. However, at no time was Naturi subjected to any physical abuse.”
Naturi called bullshit on all of that. She was adamant her ousting from the group had everything to do with her not fitting the “Girl Can Mack image”, whatever that was supposed to mean.
Naturi’s outspokenness and her “choice of clothing” didn’t sit so well with Momager Williams. Now abandoned, Naturi claimed they even tried to keep her from singing on songs and wanted her to lie to fans she was off to college in order to seal her clean exit from the hit group.
“If I think something is wrong, I’m going to say it, Naughton said. “When any member of 3LW, not just me, challenged her, they were bound to get in trouble.”
Naughton recalled conversations when Bailon said, “Don’t say anything. I’m not saying anything. I’m not getting kicked out of the group.”
Bailon rode out with 3LW and all of the group’s transformations.
The group released A Girl Can Mack to dismal sales at the time. The album debuted at 15 on the charts and only sold $53,000 in its first week, a major tank from the group’s platinum-selling self-titled premiere album, which commanded a whopping $1.3 million in the U.S. alone.
Jessica Benson replaced Naturi. This led to the group’s ultimate demise and metamorphosis into The Cheetah Girls, sans Benson.
The Cheetah Girls were huge until they weren’t.
In 2010, Kiely went on to release the single most confusing and desperate video in recent memory.
“Spectacular”—the distant, play cousin of the Christina Aguilera “Dirty” and Keri Hilson’s “The Way You Love Me” videos—it was a random and an off-beat departure for the former Disney star. It ultimately became an unspectacular flop.
Five years later, at 31, Naturi, a lead on popular hit series “Power,” now in its second season, sits on the Wendy Williams show.
But the space flanked between a tormented, former girl group member covered in KFC macaroni and “Power’s” bossy Tasha is steeped in a narrative of survival.
Naturi put music in the backseat and had the nerve to come for an even more ruthless world. A world where her ‘look’ could possibly be unfit, again. But that didn’t stop her from Hollywood dreamin’.
The coveted role in Notorious wasn’t easy for Naturi. Sources close to the film’s casting confirmed Lil’ Kim wanted Christina Milian to play her, claiming Naturi looked nothing like her.
Had to be a challenge to play a hip hop icon on screen, who in real life, felt the portrayal wasn’t worthy. I love Kimberly Jones like I love dried organic mangoes and St. Germain, but it’s widely known she suffers from a tormented and backward self-concept, and to no fault of her own. More on this later.
Naturi soared after her critically acclaimed performance. She starred in the Fame reboot, Lottery Ticket and she eventually broke one of Hollywood’s most stubborn barriers.
Guest starring on “Mad Men,” during the series’ heydey in 2010, Naturi played the role of Toni Charles, a Playboy Bunny who has one of the series’ characters, a white British advertising executive, locked at the knees. Her celebrated guest starring role led to an even bigger role on the short-lived “The Playboy Club” series on ABC. Although the show was cancelled after one season, Naturi did what she came to do: win.
Sitting pretty between the daytime host and co-star Omari Hardwick, rocking box braids, a super sexy summer frock and bronzed skin to boot, the legend of 3LW hangs only by a thinning thread in Naturi’s world.
When Williams, in all of her shady glory, says to Naughton, “Kiely was supposed to be the star, where is she?” Naturi gracefully and succinctly responds, “No clue.”
Just before Williams brought up the KFC incident, she clarifies, “No shade, I’m just asking.” Naughton says again, “Really, no clue. Genuinely.”
“But the blessing of 3LW is that, I had the opportunity to learn as a teenager in the business. They kind of pushed me out of that. I learned a lot. It hurt at the time.”
Hardwick chimes saying, “They didn’t put you out. God didn’t want you there.”
Williams insists again, “Do you talk to any of these girls?”
Naturi responds, “I’m happy to be where I am, and doing “Power” is making me feel empowered.”
Keily Williams really fucked up when she made that song “Spectacular”. — FemmeFDOOM (@PLAIDvillain) June 8, 2015
I’m glad Naturi Naughton rose above being the exiled member of 3LW — Esmeralda (@ItsSimplyAce) June 29, 2015
Photo Credit: Archuleta/FilmMagic, Steve Grayson/WireImage