Brandee Evans interview: ‘P-Valley’

“It’s one thing when you are dancing for Katy Perry, and it’s another thing when you’re dancing to take home tips,” exclaims Brandee Evans about her role on the new drama series “P-Valley.” In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), she continues, “It was very different being comfortable as a woman in my body and doing justice to these stories.”

The freshman Starz program is set in a Mississippi strip club called The Pynk. It uses noir storytelling to explore the lives of the women who work there. Created by acclaimed playwright Katori Hall, the first season is directed solely by women. Evans explains that women directors helped with “having these moments where we have to bear it all literally, mentally and physically. She understood you. It could very easily go very raunchy. I don’t think ‘P-Valley’ does because it’s so tastefully shot. I think the women helped do that.”

Before landing the series, Evans was a dancer who toured with Katy Perry. She’s also a dance teacher who has run ‘Hip Hop in Heels’ dance classes for more than a decade. In “P-Valley” she
plays Mercedes, a veteran stripper who has to juggle work, dance coaching and family responsibilities. The actress reflects, “The only reason me and Mercedes are different is in our profession. I coached dancing my entire life. I have been teaching women that confidence is sexy, not your dress size. When Mercedes is teaching these women how to be comfortable in their bodies and be confident, I think that overlaps.”

The series was a true blessing for the actress who reveals, “I didn’t even have groceries in my refrigerator when I got ‘P-Valley.’ My mentor had just sent me Instacart to try and get groceries. This job has truly helped changed my life. I can breathe a bit and do what I love. That has always been my vision, every year when I do a vision board: God bless me to be able to care for my mother and live my dream. ‘P-Valley’ allowed me to do both.”

Mercedes and her mother Patrice (Harriett D. Foy), have a fraught relationship in the series. Evans explains, “My mom and I actually had a toxic relationship growing up. It’s crazy that I’m her caregiver now. People back home that I knew before would have never imagined that. That’s a beautiful story that is shown with Mercedes and Patrice as well. You see her running back to her mom. I’m always going to run back to my mom. You only get one mom and Mercedes feels the same.”

In the third episode of the season, it is revealed that Mercedes is a mom herself. Evans confesses, “I didn’t know that Mercedes was a mom until I got that script. I lost my daughter in real life. Erica is around the same age my daughter would be now. When I got that script and saw that she was a mother, I just balled. ‘I get to be a mom on camera, I get to live through Mercedes the dream.’ That was so beautiful. Truly, ‘P-Valley’ is my therapy and healing.”

The Pynk has a lot of rules and Evan says her favourite is “24.5: ‘No crying at The Pynk.’ I try to think of The Pynk as life in general. No crying. Suck it up. Get through it. Let’s be real, it’s been a hard year for everyone. So I try to think of the positive. 2020 has been a mess. But, ‘P-Valley’ came out this year. July 12th was a beautiful moment for me. You have to remember the blessings in the storms. My best friend Sasha is always trying to shift my thinking to think more positively. You keep the people around you that help.”

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UPLOADED Dec 29, 2020 7:35 pm