[Photo: ABC’s “Queens” stars Naturi Naughton Eve, Brandy and Nadine Velazquez. ABC/Gavin Bond]
It’s a show about sisterhood and family, but that doesn’t mean everyone gets along all the time, which is an important part of the narrative, says the series creator.
It’s Zahir McGhee who explains that, “these are people that have been brought back together after a long period of time, and [they] have fights — there are always going to be arguments, there’s always going to be a hierarchy that exists, and shifting, but we do want to [show] the friendship more so than a rivalry or bickering or backstabbing.”
She’s talking about Queens which follows four women in their 40s who are estranged but decide to reunite, hoping to recapture the fame they enjoyed in the ’90s when they were legends in the hip-hop world.
The series comes from McGhee, who also executive produces, with original music composed by executive music producer Swizz Beatz, and stars Eve, Brandy Norwood, Naturi Naughton, and Nadine Velazquez.
The struggles within the group are precisely what makes the series special says, Velazquez, pointing out that, “We have our oppositions, and then we come together to hold each other up.”
As for the actors playing the foursome and how they’ve come together for this project, Naughton begins with, “Eve and I were actually on MTV’s TRL Awards way back when. So, day one of rehearsal [for Queens], I brought a picture. It was like, ‘Look at this.’ I was like 16 or 17, and Eve had blonde hair. It was so dope.”
She says that as soon as the ladies came together for Queens, “We immediately clicked and it’s the support of each other that has helped all of us be able to gel together.”
Brandy feels, that ‘Like, honestly. It’s just, it’s just magical.”
Naughton interjects with, “I always wanted sisters growing up, and now I feel like I’ve got them.”
In being authentic to the ‘90s, Eve says that, “you know, we’ve lived that time. So, it’s important for us, because when people listen to the music, when they see our outfits, they see our hair, everything, we want them to be transported back to that moment.”
As for rapping, Naughton admits that up until now she’s primarily been a singer, but she’s learning to rap, and that it’s, “fun discovering the new cadence of what it takes to be an artist in that way.”
“I absolutely love rap,” says Brandy, adding, “I’ve been a hip-hop head from since the ’90s. I’m just so happy to be able to rap and sing. And it’s definitely a difference, because rapping is really, really difficult. It’s so challenging, and I absolutely love it.”
Valezquez is an extreme novice, she admits. “I’ve never rapped ever before until the show. Ever, not once. And I love it. I just love finding and listening to music and studying rappers now, and just hearing different things that I didn’t hear before.”
While McGhee says that the main purpose of music in the series is to push the story forward, Eve believes that there’re more than that, that the tunes are, “so incredible, honestly. This music is going to feed you. Trust me, when you hear it, you’re going to love it.”
There have been a few other series that share a similar premise to Queens — a girl group making a go of it – namely the drama Lee Daniel’s Star and Peacock’s comedy series Girls5Eva.
Comparing and contrasting Queens to those series, McGhee says, “Number one, I’m not intimately familiar with them [enough] to talk about exactly what the comparisons are. Certainly, there’s space for all these shows to exist. And I think, this show is [primarily] a musical and a character drama about these women and their lives, and second chances.”
McGhee says that now feels like the right time for Queens to debut because, “we’ve seen Backstreet Boys do a reunion tour, and New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men. We’re seeing it happen a lot in the world. So, I think people are passionate for the good times that they had back in the day, and what those memories are.”
With unique content, McGhee believes, “We have the opportunity to tell the breadth of stories about the experience of women of color and black women in this country I think that the time was yesterday for this show, and the time is today, and the time is tomorrow.”
‘Queens’ airs Tuesdays at 10e/p on ABC.
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