“P-valley” captures the lives of exotic dancers working in the Mississippi Delta. The show not only shows the relatable struggles of the characters but shows the athleticism behind their work. The actresses spent several months training physically and mentally for their roles.
When discussing the show, which premieres July 12 on STARZ, there is a level of physical, emotional, and mental preparation the actresses needed to come into their characters that was intense and challenging. Shannon Thornton who plays Keyshawn also known as Ms.Mississippi had to capture all the complexities that came with her character. Keyshawn is the life of the party, an aspiring “instafamous” dancer, and also a survivor. When coming into the role Thornton was faced with the challenge of capturing the character’s complexity and duality. Keyshawn’s confidence, joy, insecurities, and pain are all captured on screen. Her story mirrors the painful realities of many women around the world who still manage to put a smile on their face and the faces of those they love. Audiences will see Keyshawn as a mother returning from maternity leave, a friend, an employee, and a young woman with a future brighter than she realizes.
Skyler Joy who plays Gidget, who is also referred to as “The White Girl”, faced similar challenges as her co-star Shannon. Gidget is a second-generation pole dancer, a loyal friend, and selfless. The character prioritizes the people she loves and isn’t quick to put herself first. Skyler’s character also sees the sport of pole dancing as “an olympic worthy sport” and her athleticism on the pole showcases the difficulty of mastering the art of pole dancing. Gidget’s ride or die loyalty also leads to her typically being the family’s “Iyanla” providing words of wisdom and insight.
When exploring the complexities of Hall’s characters the “OG” Mercedes who is played by Brandee Evans also showcases the beauty within duality. Mercedes is a woman of God and also has a quick tongue. She will pray for you and check your attitude simultaneously. Evans, who is a Memphis native, was able to relate to her character in many ways from similar backgrounds, growing up in the Mississippi Delta, and even working as a dance teacher. Mercedes exudes confidence and watching her will make anyone say “Goals.” Similar to the fact that character helps to make viewers more confident she made Brandee gain a level of confidence in order to embody the Pynk’s OG.
The actress’s training and preparation will draw in viewers. The rawness and truths they carry not only are relatable but they help to show the reality of life for exotic dancers. Katori Hall refers to her characters as “regular” in the sense that they have lives outside of their careers. The dancers of the Pynk have emotions, dreams, and challenges that many people deal within their daily lives.