[EXCLUSIVE] @A_ParkerJones [April Parker-Jones]: IF LOVING YOU IS WRONG...
If Loving You is Wrong has become one of the OWN Network’s most popular series. In fact, it’s become insanely popular as each week, viewers are learning more and more way they relate to each of the show’s characters. Today, we were blessed to sit down with April Parker-Jones, who effortlessly portrays the role of blue collar mom Natalie Henning. As the fiancé of Lushion, portrayed by Charles Malik Whitlock, she’s very much like many of today’s everyday women. She works hard to make sure she and her family are good, and she nurtures her relationships and friendships the best she knows how, but she can flip the script and get wild on you when the moment calls. Natalie doesn’t take any less, and that characterization by Jones has placed the show as one of OWN’s top-rated shows to date.
Take a moment and check out this clip from the show...
Below, Jones talks with us about the show, and why she’s so grateful to Tyler and OWN for the opportunity, as well as what’s to come in her future!
U.G. Digital Mag: Before anything, I have to thank you. This is bucket list material right here [laughing]. I’ve loved your character since this show started, and have watched since day one. Between this and The Haves and the Have Nots, I watch religiously. I also work for a hospital, and I have always had my iPad or phone with me to watch when the show airs through the app. When I tell you, my wife and I have been waiting for this week’s premiere. Your character is amazing, and I just have to thank you for this awesome opportunity in speaking today.
April Parker-Jones: James, that means so much, and I have to ask you what about Natalie you like so much.
U.G. Digital Mag: For starters, Natalie is a mirror of my wife. Natalie works her tail off to be sure her kids are taken care of, her man is taken care of, and when it comes down to it, the way you marched down the street for Alex when you thought she was messing with Lushion, that was my wife all day. Even down to the friends I have ion Facebook, she will be quick to say if she doesn’t like someone and look for me to delete them.
April Parker-Jones: She loves you.
U.G. Digital Mag: My point exactly. I love that in your character. Natalie is so down to earth.
April Parker-Jones: I’m so glad to know you feel that way. I feel that way about Natalie, and I think that’s what makes her so relatable. Tell your wife I said thank you.
U.G. Digital Mag: I certainly will. Obviously, we’re celebrating this show, but we also celebrate you because this year makes 15 years that you’ve been out her entertaining us, and working regularly. The grind is evident. How is it to know you’ve made this mark in your career and the industry?
April Parker-Jones: When you put it that way, it kinda puts things back into perspective because as artists, we’re on a mission of constant grinding. We forget to celebrate our achievements. Thank you for pointing that out. I’m going to consciously make time to sit back and look at what I’ve done and say “you’ve done alright”. To me, in my everyday life, I’m constantly saying what do I have to do next, or I may feel I need to do this or that. I’ve got to do more, or accomplish more. We have to stop and celebrate those small victories. That being said, I still feel like the best is still yet to come for me in my career. I’m so grateful for where I am now. What I’m most grateful for is my most high creator in God allowed me to see this accomplishment, being on If Loving You is Wrong at this age and stage in my life and career, where I can appreciate it. I’m more mature, and I understand the impact that being on this show has on people, especially living back on the east coast now. I see people in everyday life who may recognize me from the show, and I see the impact it has. I’m so grateful that God waited until this point in my life to give me this blessing. It’s been great. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
U.G. Digital Mag: For obvious reasons, with the show being connected through both Tyler Perry and Oprah, I think those reasons alone would make anybody jump at the opportunity, but what drew you to Natalie?
April Parker-Jones: Well, when I had the chance to audition, my agent and manager sent me the breakdown for the black characters, so those being Kelly, Marcy, and Natalie.
U.G. Digital Mag: They are great.
April Parker-Jones: They’re amazing. Everybody is so perfect for their part. It’s amazing to me how everyone fits perfect. They sent me the breakdown, and asked me who I connected with. Immediately, when I read Natalie, I didn’t even need to read the others. I connected immediately because she is so much like me, and so much like women I grew up around. She’s like so many of the women who are still a part of my life, so I connected with her right away. Naturally, when it comes to giving life to Natalie, and giving Natalie a voice, it ain’t too hard. It ain’t much of a stretch [laughing]. It really comes easy to me in comparison to so many of the characters I’ve played on other shows. It’s been a stretch for those because I’m not a doctor. I’m not a General for the military. I’m not a Pediatrician. So those required more acting. Natalie has been a joy because it has come so easily.
U.G. Digital Mag: You do an amazing job in her character. You’re strong when you need to be, but you still manage to show the softer side when needed. This week, when you came back and said you helped Kelly get a gun, it was cool to see the softer side.
April Parker-Jones: Yes, and I’m so glad that Tyler allows us the ability to show those nuances in our characters. He’s great about allowing us to explore those things, and I do believe it’s necessary. She is a woman, and she has feelings, and is not a superhero, although she wears a cape [laughing], life so many of us women do, but she is human, and very sensitive and insecure in her own way. I’m glad the audience got to see a softer side.
U.G. Digital Mag: Now I would be crazy not to ask, and you can answer this however you want [laughing], but what is the biggest thing we can expect in this season? I’ve been waiting for Eddie to go down for so long [laughing]…
April Parker-Jones: I think we have all been waiting for Eddie to have his day, but I can’t give away too much. I will say that Natalie will continue to explore the softer sides, but you’ll see the old Natalie when it’s necessary. She’s going to be a wonderful sounding board and support to her co-stars, and just stay tuned. Look, you never know what’s going to happen with Tyler Perry in that mind of his, but I will say that the season will keep you glued to your seat, and you will tune in to every episode.
U.G. Digital Mag: This past Tuesday, I was so thrown off by the finale from last season being an hour and a half, so I was confused at midnight when the new episode had not started yet. Nevertheless, it was great when I did see it.
April Parker-Jones: James, I just thank you for supporting If Loving You is Wrong, the OWN Network, and Tyler Perry. I’m so grateful that black people get to have this platform to express themselves and be creative. We’re getting so many more opportunities, and I feel I’m beginning to see the shift for black actors, and people behind the scenes getting more opportunities. It’ll continue to grow as long as we continue to support it.
U.G. Digital Mag: One of the final questions I wanted to ask was about other projects. You’ve done so well. I spoke to people in my family about connecting with you, and my mom knows of you from The Young & The Restless, my wife has watched you on both Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, and so many other projects. What do you see in the future?
April Parker-Jones: I’ve been so blessed to work on a project all summer in Los Angeles, and I don’t yet have clearance to speak the name of the show or network, but I will say we wrapped yesterday for the season. It’s a character extremely different from Natalie’s character. People who have watched me over the years have seen me in this type of role before though. The episodes will not air until next year, but when I have clearance, I will certainly let you know more about it. We’ll have some time, but it’s been great to be blessed with this summer job. I would love to do more film. I really don’t have as much film under my belt, so I would love to transition into more film, in addition to the television work. I’m open; I’m grateful; and like I said before, I feel like the best is yet to come. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me. Im ready.
U.G. Digital Mag: There are mounds in store for you, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. For people who want to connect with you online, how can that happen?
April Parker-Jones: On social media [Instagram, Twitter], they can check me out at @a_parkerjones, and on Facebook it’s April Parker Jones.