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Katori Hall’s ‘P-Valley’ Brings Hollywood to the Dirty South

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written by Kimberly Jones

Memphis native Katori Hall is no stranger to success in the entertainment industry. Hall is an award-winning playwright best known for her hit Broadway play The Mountaintop about Martin Luther King Jr’s last night before his assassination. The Mountaintop had a successful run on Broadway and starred Hollywood heavyweights Samuel L Jackson and Angela Bassett. But Hall has switched gears and has a new title – showrunner. P-Valley, written and produced by Hall, is a drama about the highs and lows strippers face in the Mississippi Delta. The setting for the drama alone is unique, P-Valley is in a fictional town of Chucalissa Mississippi, a small dying town with abandoned buildings, houses, and storefronts. It seems like an odd place for a strip club to be located but there is so much culture in the characters. The story blends well and is an accurate representation of southern culture. From the dialogue to the music, P-Valley sheds light on parts of the South that are often overlooked. The debut episode features the song Nobody by Playa Fly, which is a Memphis anthem, and pays homage to Memphis rappers who have had a large influence the on hip-hop sound that we have today.

At the beginning of the series, Autumn (played by UK actress Elarica Johnson) is washed ashore in Houston and seems to be trying to escape her past life all while concealing her identity. She arrives in the small town looking for work, and gets a job at the Pynk strip club after an amateur night. Autumn is a rookie in need of money, so she dives in but always keeps her distance from the other girls. In flashbacks she somewhat reflects on her past life with a child and her partner. Her real story, however, is yet to be revealed. Autumn has tried to remain lowkey but cannot avoid butting heads with Mercedes, the veteran of the group, played by another Memphis native Brandee Evans (The Bobby Brown Story).

Mercedes’ bad girl attitude, amazing skills on the pole and confidence sets her apart from the other ladies at Pynk. Evans, who is a professional dancer/choreographer, does an amazing job of making Mercedes both memorable and relatable. Although Mercedes is planning to hang up her stripper boots and leave Pynk soon the rivalry with Autumn is fueled by jealousy, insecurities, and colorism. In both episodes, Autumn’s skin tone is referenced because she has fairer skin than the other ladies. Some of the clients that come into the club prefer Autumn over Mercedes and, although Autumn is inexperienced, she is making more money than her counterparts. Hall does a good job of subtly addressing colorism and how it has an effect on black women every day.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of P-Valley is Pynk’s owner Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan Claws) a non-binary queer who identifies as she, provides comic relief and steals every single scene. Uncle Clifford’s slick mouth, loud clothes and boss attitude is just what TV has been missing and with her quick punch lines there is never a dull moment. As much as Uncle Clifford is trying to keep it a secret, she is in jeopardy of losing Pynk and is having some serious financial struggles. Her hustling skills include everything from car washes to selling hot wings seasoned with weed. There is no doubt she will figure something out.

P-Valley is in a lane of its own. The story and struggles of these women are both eccentric and intriguing. The freshman drama is a breath of fresh air for television. In a time when a lot of dramas have familiar story lines, this change is good for viewers. Hall’s vision and talented cast is a perfect combination for this newest STARZ hit.

P-Valley airs Sundays nights on STARZ.

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Lupita Nyong’o Wore a Cowrie Shells Headpiece To The Berlinale International Jury Photocall. Here is Why This is Significant.

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Lupita Nyong'o at Berlinale

During the international jury photocall on Thursday, Lupita Nyong’o was photographed wearing a grey Boss suit and a gorgeous  Lafalaise Dion cowrie shell headpiece. This was an important fashion statement. Here is why.

The Oscar-winning actress was invited to serve as this year’s head of the Berlin International Film Festival jury. She became the first Black jury president to oversee the annual film showcase event in its 74-year history. Also known as the Berlinale, the festival is one of the five largest in the world, along with the Toronto, Cannes, Venice, and Sundance film festivals.

The ‘Black Panther’ star expressed her excitement to take on the role in an Instagram post, “Let the festivities begin!” she wrote, “I’m so honored to be this year’s @berlinale Jury President and look forward to celebrating one of the things I love most: cinema!”

As the jury president, Nyong’o is expected to lead the jury in selecting the films to award in the two main categories – Golden and Silver Bears.

Film festivals continue to face criticism for lacking diversity on their juries. The Berlinale directors are moving in the right direction by bringing someone like Nyong’o on board, who is a true champion for diversity and inclusion.

Lupita Nyong'o at Berlinale Jury photocall

Nyong’o opted for a minimalist and simple Boss suit for last week’s jury photocall. She completed the look with a beautiful cowrie shell headpiece created by Côte d’Ivoire designer Dion Dewand Marcia Lafalaise, the self-crowned ‘Queen of Cowries.’ These particular shells represent wealth, prosperity, and fertility. By wearing the unique piece, the Kenyan-born and Mexican-raised star paid homage to her African roots on one of the biggest stages in the world.

Dion, who crafted the headpiece, also expressed gratitude, as her creation is now officially a part of Berlin Film Festival history. She wrote in an Instagram post

“…At this pivotal occasion, Queen Lupita Nyong’o proudly embraces her heritage, gracing the world once again with the iconic crown crafted by Lafalaise Dion.
Her journey to this moment serves as a beacon of inspiration, resonating deeply within our hearts and souls. We are humbled and honored to stand alongside her as she etches her name in the annals of cinematic history
.”

The festival is scheduled to run until February 25, when the jury announces the winning films in the major categories.

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Usher Marries Jennifer Goicoechea in a Post-Super Bowl Surprise Wedding (photos)

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Usher Marries Jennifer Goicoechea

On February 11, 2024, the Super Bowl LVIII halftime show captivated the world, featuring a stunning performance by R&B legend Usher. Little did fans know that the excitement didn’t end there. In a romantic twist, the 45-year-old married his longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Goicoechea, in a secret ceremony that same weekend.

Usher Marries Jennifer Goicoechea

Born as Usher Raymond IV, the singer has been a prominent figure in the music industry for over three decades. Known for his smooth vocals and captivating stage presence, he has earned numerous accolades, including eight Grammy Awards. Goicoechea, a music executive, has constantly supported Usher throughout their relationship. The couple first met in 2019 and have been together since, raising two young children (Usher also has two older sons from a previous marriage).

The wedding took place in Las Vegas, just hours after Usher’s electrifying halftime show performance.

Close friends and family attended the wedding, including Usher’s mother, Jonetta Patton, who served as a witness. Jennifer wore an elegant white gown, while Usher donned a stylish black suit. The couple exchanged heartfelt vows, and the ceremony concluded with an exchange of rings.

In a statement to People magazine, which released the exclusive images from the ceremony, a representative for the couple confirmed the news, saying, “Usher and Jennifer Goicoechea took the next step in their relationship and did get married on Sunday night in Las Vegas surrounded by close friends and family. They both look forward to continuing to raise their children together surrounded by love and thank everyone for the well wishes.”

The wedding has been met with an outpouring of support and congratulations from fans and celebrities alike. Many fans praised the couple for their love and commitment, while others felt heartbroken by the news.

In a true performer fashion, Usher wrapped this year’s Super Bowl weekend with a bang! Not just because his historic halftime show drew a record-breaking 123.4 million viewers, but also because he made it about family and love.

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First Look at the Magical World of ‘Wicked’ Starring Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo (Trailer)

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The new trailer for the upcoming movie musical ‘Wicked’ has finally dropped, leaving fans buzzing with excitement. The film, which stars Ariana Grande as Glinda and Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, is set to be released in two parts.

The trailer opens with a stunning shot of the Emerald City, the iconic location from the original ‘Wizard of Oz’ story. We then see a young Elphaba arriving at Shiz University, where she meets Glinda for the first time. The two characters couldn’t be more different – Elphaba is a shy, green-skinned girl whom her peers often ostracize, while Glinda is a bubbly, popular blonde who seems to have everything she could ever want.

As the trailer progresses, we see glimpses of the musical numbers that have made ‘Wicked’ such a beloved show on Broadway. The production design features vibrant colors and intricate costumes that bring the world of Oz to life.

The pairing of Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo, both vocal powerhouses, is beautiful and will yield beautiful musical numbers. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Erivo mentioned that she and Grande were surprised at how well their voices complemented each other.

The trailer also gives us a glimpse of the other characters in the film, including Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero, Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, and Jeff Goldblum as the Wizard of Oz.

‘Wicked’ part one is set to premiere later this year, with the second installment scheduled for November 2025.

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