If you think you already know what a TV drama set in a Dirty South strip club will entail, think again. For playwright-turned-showrunner Katori Hall, she’s on a mission to put a human face on exotic dancers and shows their full lives off the pole with her play-turned-STARZ series, PValley.
During the 2020 virtual ESSENCE Festival of Culture, Yes Girl! podcast co-host Cori Murray and Hall—who has a long list of receipts for writing the 2010 award-winning play The Mountaintop (which starred Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson on Broadway) and the current Tina, The Tina Turner Musical--spilled some tea about her highly anticipated new show, which premieres July 12 on Starz.
On PValley‘s Origins…
KATORI HALL: “Set down in the Dirty Delta, in a club called The Pynk [pronounced Pank] says Hall, who hails from Memphis, Tennessee. “The series centers on the lives of women who are working and dancing there. It’s about their relationships with each other, their relationships with themselves, their relationships with the customers.”
On PValley‘s Comparisons to Films The Players’ Club and Hustlers…
HALL: “[The Players Club] was like one of the first movies that really visually articulated a Black Southern strip club, right? In terms of Hustlers, I would say we’re sisters, [in the sense] that that particular story was told from the female gaze, which is something I think our show is extremely successful at. We center the stories of women, we experience the world of the women, we are up on the pole with the women. So, I really feel as though my show is definitely in conversation with those pieces.”
On Why Black Women Should Watch A Show About Strippers…
HALL: “These women, they’re just like me and you. They’re our sisters, they’re our daughters, they’re our mothers. And I was just really happy, as a Black woman who really understands that long history of hyper-sexualized images, to be given a platform so that I can really humanize them because they’ve been stigmatized; they’ve been shunned. And the world of exotic dancing, it exists, and I really wanted to put a human face on these dancers.”
Watch the video above to hear a little of what she had to say.
For more of everything you missed during the first-ever virtual ESSENCE Festival of Culture, visit ESSENCE.com and ESSENCE Studios.