After a 2-year wait, P-Valley finally returns to Starz on June 3, and the Pynk Posse, as the cast and creator lovingly call show fans, can’t be more elated.
With the countdown on for the neon-tinted southern drama officially on, fans are eager to see what is in store for series favorites Ms. Mississippi / Keyshawn and Lil Murda. We got a chance to catch up with the actors behind the nuanced characters, Shannon Thornton and J. Alphonse Nicholson, to talk all things season 2.
In season 1, each of the actors expertly took on the tough task of exploring the plight of characters living through often-misunderstood situations. Thornton played Keyshawn, a local stripper and mother to a young infant she often has to bring to work with her, struggling through a physically and mentally abusive relationship. Come season’s end, when confronted with an opportunity to exit, she instead chose to stay – even turning her back on the Diamond (Tyler Lepley), the club bouncer and her good friend, attempting to defend her.
“I think Katori [Hall, creator of P-Valley]did a beautiful job painting that picture and making it real,” Thornton said of Keyshawn’s plight with domestic violence. “I got a lot of DMs and comments from people who really related to Keyshawn and who related to Diamond – my mom being one of them.”
Thornton revealed that her role on the show opened up a dialogue between her and her mother about her family’s own history with domestic violence, previously unbeknownst to her.
“Hearing personal stories and how people could relate was just really touching,” she continued. “This season, you really get to see why she stays. I don’t think it’s a relationship that she ‘refuses’ to leave, it’s just complicated,” she said, noting that more of the ties that keep Keyshawn tied down to Derrick despite his physical and mental abuse are explored this season.
Nicholson on the other hand took on a role often demonized in the culture: a rapper with a hypermasculine image living a double life as a closeted, trans-attracted man.
“For Lil Murda, you see him fight with all the complex emotions that come with being a closeted Black man and rapper in this society,” Nicholson said. “It’s someone we know and we’ve seen, but we just haven’t seen on this large of a platform.”
In Season 1, Lil Murda began a secret romantic relationship with Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan), the trans club owner of The Pynk. While Clifford was always prepared to keep their relationship private, she broke things off when Lil Murda decided to treat her coldly and deride her in front of his straight male friends in the interest of protecting his public image.
In the upcoming season, Nicholson says that fans will be able to get a better understanding of the issues that Lil Murda is facing while struggling to be true to himself and chase his big dreams.
“We’re able to really see him find himself – find himself as a musician, find himself as a friend, as a loved one to those around him. I like to call him the everyman. We get to see someone who has a little bit of all of us in him.”
“The audience members may sometimes have a little bit of a hard time understanding it, because it’s not the usual reflection you see when you look in the mirror,” Nicholson explained. “But I’m grateful that we’re able to be the show that does that.”