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

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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Film & Television

‘By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times Of Godfather Of Harlem’: Docuseries Inspired by Emmy Award-winning series To Premiere In November

The four-part music docuseries, inspired by Epix’s show Godfather of Harlem, is set to premiere on November 8, 2020 at 10 PM ET/PT.

Inspired by the music and subjects featured in the EPIX original series, the documentary will highlight the dramatic true story of Harlem and its music in the 1960’s and will feature interviews with the stars of Godfather of Harlem: Academy Award®-winner Forest Whitaker, Giancarlo Esposito and Ilfenesh Hadera and musicians Gladys Knight, Martha Reeves, Herbie Hancock, Nile Rogers, A$AP Ferg, Chika, Joe Bataan and Freddie Stone. Other notables in the series include activist Al Sharpton, former U.S. Representative Charles Rangel and poet Sonia Sanchez.

The series will take audiences on a musical journey that brings to life the excitement of 1960’s Harlem, and introduces the artists who dared to use their voices, instruments and lyrics to take a stand against oppression.

By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times of Godfather of Harlem is executive produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi and Forest Whitaker from Significant Productions, along with Keith McQuirter (Decoder Media). 

The first season of Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed drama Godfather of Harlem is currently available for streaming. Season two will kick off production this fall. 

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Film & Television

‘Black Adam’: Aldis Hodge To Star as Hawkman

Aldis Hodge (Clemency, The Invisible Man) will join Dwayne Johnson, AKA The Rock who stars as the title antihero in the new DC Comics’ Black Adam movie.

Hodge will play Hawkman who, according to the comic books, is an alien police officer Katar Hol from the planet Thanagar and one of the founding members of the Justice Society.

“A pleasure to welcome Aldis Hodge to Black Adam,” the Rock posted on Instagram. “Hawkman is a critical leading role for our movie, as he is the fiery leader of the JSA (Justice Society of America) and one of the most beloved and legendary characters in the DC Universe.”

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THIS IS HAWKMAN 🦅 A pleasure to welcome @aldis_hodge to BLACK ADAM. HAWKMAN is a critical leading role for our movie, as he is the fiery leader of the JSA (Justice Society of America) and one of the most beloved and legendary characters in the DC UNIVERSE. I called Aldis personally as I wanted to surprise him that he got the role and it wound up being one of the greatest conversations I’ve ever had. Aldis: Hello? DJ: Hello, I’d like to speak to Aldis. Aldis: Who is this? DJ: This is Dwayne Johnson. * long pause Aldis: Whoever this is stop playing on my phone. DJ: This is Dwayne, is this Aldis? * longer pause Aldis: This shit ain’t funny, I said stop playing on my fucking phone. DJ: Aldis, this is DJ. I just called to say thank you so much for sending in your audition – it was great and I really appreciate the efforts you made. Just wanted to say thanks and best of luck in all you do. And one more thing — welcome to Black Adam. * longest pause Aldis: I’m sorry you’ll have to hold on for a one second. * he puts the phone down and walks away and all I hear is inaudible yells 😂 Aldis: DJAYYYY OHHHHH SHIT!!!!!! * Im laughing my ass off by now. DJ: You ok? You’re gonna crush this role! We went on to have an awesome conversation full of gratitude, love and motivation. Can’t wait to work with this very talented brother. The perfect HAWKMAN. Let’s get to work. #aldishodge #jsa #hawkman 🦅 #blackadam⚡️

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Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and written by Rory Haines and Sohrab Noshirvani, The film will

The film is scheduled to premiere in theaters on December 22, 2021. 

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Film & Television

Yara Shahidi To Play Tinkerbell in New Peter Pan Movie

The Black-ish actress is set to play Tinkerbell in David Lowery‘s Peter Pan and Wendy, Disney’s latest live-action adaptation. Shahidi joins a cast that features Jude Law as Captain Hook, Alexander Molony (The Reluctant Landlord) as Peter Pan and Ever Anderson (Black Widow) as Wendy.

This move marks the first time a Black woman will play the role that traditionally has featured a white actress. Much like another Disney animated classic remake Little Mermaid that announced casting their first Black Ariel, Halle Bailey, in 2019.

According to Deadline, the release is expected to be theatrical and not go the Disney+ streaming route.

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