On entering the cafe, Naomi Scott sits down and immediately starts detailing the trivial nature of pre press trip pampering appoinments she has had to endure so far today. It’s impossible not to immediately like her. As a former Disney Channel starlet, independent recording artist and modern day interpretation of Kimberly Hart AKA The Pink Ranger in the upcoming Power Rangers blockbuster, one might expect Scott to be a polished press princess. But her chummy demeanour, hilarious anecdotes, self- deprecating stories of her “random” rise to the industry and her strong stance on where she stands within it suggest otherwise.
Naomi: Yo yo yo, this is Nay. One two one two. So I’m going to Birmingham straight after this, cause my husband [soccer player Jordan Spence] had to go up there for work. I’m going to spend the evening with him tonight otherwise I won’t see him before I go to Brazil on Thursday, so that’s why I’m like [blows raspberry].
Kaya: How do you both and balancing your lives with your careers?
Naomi: We’re both good at letting each other do what we need to do. The best thing is we’re really good as a team so when we come together we’re like the Megazord.
Kaya: You had to throw that one in.
Naomi: That’s for you, Lionsgate [does finger guns].
Kaya: How’s press going?
Naomi: It’s great. My cast mates and I all bring different stuff, I like taking the piss out of everything. I think it’s because I love Power Rangers so much. I actually think it’s goingto be sick. And that’s coming from someone who’s very...
Naomi: When I got the breakdown I was like, “Is this really the next choice I want to make as an actress?” Then I Skyped the director, Dean [Israelite] and he just laid it all out for me, and I was like, “I’m so on board.”
Kaya: Did you watch it growing up?
Naomi: No, but I remember playing Power Rangers. Me and my brother being like, “Power Rangeeeers” and then wrestling.
Kaya: When you played it were you the pink one?
Naomi: I don’t think I would have been the pink girl, I was a bit of a tomboy.
Kaya: The original Kimberly, she was like a valley girl cheerleader. Did you use that?
Naomi: Clearly I look like I t the bill, but as actors we’ve got to start afresh. The Kimberly I play is mature, she’s super sexy, she’s on it.
Kaya: Did you all get to build the characters yourselves?
Naomi: Definitely. I’ve always been very purposeful with the roles I’ve taken on. I really want to do a comedy but it has to be the right comedy, I don’t want to play the female who’s aiding the guy who’s funny, just because I look a certain way. Sometimes I get scripts and it’s like, “Oh it’s a comedy! But I don’t get anything funny... Why am I in a bikini? What? I can be funny! Wait, is this the lead actor...? I’m way funnier than him!” I’ve always been very purposeful about not playing ‘The Hot Girl’. That’s just not for me, I’m not that girl.
Kaya: Considering the core cast and Dean himself, you’re all kind of box of office green, no?
Naomi: Did you not see me in The Martian?
Naomi: I’m joking, my scene was cut, I found out at the crew and cast screening. Then I got home and my mother-in-law went, “You’re an extra?” [laughs] I loved it, that’s the best way to keep you humble. But yes, we are all green in that area.
Kaya: So it was a learning experience together?
Naomi: Weirdly enough, I was one of the most experienced, which is funny because I’m not really. I was used to being on set – but on this scale, not so much. There’s a bit more security in that, you’re all going through it together. We really did support each other. Becky [G], this was her first acting gig. She’s in the music world, so for her it was a big learning curve but she’s a smart cookie. RJ [Cyler], he did Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, it’s one of my favourite movies and I’m not just saying that, he’s stupidly talented. Then you’ve got Ludi [Lin] who’s actually been acting for a while, mainly in China and stuff but it’s a different world, a whole different kind of thing. Then you’re got Dacre [Montgomery] who’s fresh out of WAAPA [Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts] in Perth. Fresh meat.
Kaya: But there are big names in it as well, like Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader.
Naomi: Elizabeth Banks is just on a different level. She’s fearless with her choices. Obviously, Bryan Cranston is Bryan Cranston. I actually met him for the first time in New York the other week, everyone else had gone to Vancouver for reshoots but I had to stay and then Bryan Cranston walks in – he’s been doing voice overs, so we hadn’t met before. I was like, “Bryan!” and he didn’t know who I was but he was so sweet, I went, “Oh, um Pink Power Ranger! I’m in the movie! We’re in the movie together! I’m the pink one!” and he was like, “Oooooh of course! You’re quite good in it,” and in my head I’m thinking, “Quite good? That doesn’t really mean...” Americans say that means a good thing, but in my head I was all, “Dammit.”
Kaya: You never studied acting, right?
Naomi: I know, it’s really random. Basically, music was always my first love.
Kaya: And you came from a church band background.
Naomi: Yep, singing in church, listening to gospel music, that’s my bag. We had this community church event when I was about fourteen, and my dad asked me if I would sing something. I had a backing track with a really bad midi keyboard and I sung If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys. The first acting job I got was this UK Disney channel sketch show, then my US manager was researching different British actresses, stumbled across me, typed me into YouTube, and what came up was a video clip of me in my school musical singing Joyful Joyful, Sister Act 2, Lauryn Hill style.
Kaya: What’s your process like when you make music?
Naomi: I have to give it the time because I do everything, I write, I arrange it all. In the music industry, if you look a certain way and you can sing people will come to you and say, “OK, so Rihanna didn’t want this song...” But I want to be an actual artist with my own sound.
Kaya: So instead of letting them pigeon hole you into something, you create it yourself.
Naomi: Exactly, I’m doing it all myself and luckily I’m able to fund my music because of acting. I’m being very purposeful about that because that’s something I want to get right.
Kaya: It must be hard to hold your own in two industries notoriously known for being predominantly male.
Naomi: I’ve been really very very blessed that I’ve worked with great people. With music, I choose who I work with because I’m independent, and in the acting industry I’ve just lucked out. I’ve seen things and heard things, when talking about these big movies and how they put them together, it would make you very cynical to know how they make some decisions. But there are some awesome women in the industry. I say what I think. You have to. You have to learn how to be assertive, especially as a female.
Kaya: To get what’s yours unapologetically, kind of like getting married at what’s considered a young age today.
Naomi: I didn’t want to get married young! It was just like, “We should do life together.” It’s funny when people make jokes about the ‘ball and chain’ because for me, when it’s done right there’s a beauty in it, in tethering yourself to someone. I think it’s pretty cool.