Picture Credit: STARZ
Picture Credit: STARZ

The second season of P-Valley is underway, after a heck of a long wait! Fans have been super excited to see exactly what the show’s characters have been getting up to at the Pynk, so we caught up with Nicco Annan, who plays Uncle Clifford, to learn a little about what to expect!

P-Valley obviously has a place in your heart as you’ve been playing Uncle Clifford both on stage and now on TV! How have you found portraying the character in these two mediums?

I find portraying Uncle Clifford extremely liberating and very freeing. It’s been a journey coming from the stage and now on screen. For me, what translated most was on stage, we had to project to the back of the house, to the last row and now on screen, you get to come inside so, it’s a much more intimate experience yet still, on the TV show, there’s always a show within the show like traditional, classic theatre – the show being the Pynk. When there’s a performance, or dance, or whatever the crazy ingenuity that comes out of Uncle Clifford’s brain of, how do you stay afloat, whether that’s the carwash or whatever, there’s always a show within the show of how these characters survive. That’s how they kind of match up for me.

Uncle Clifford seems to be the glue holding the group together, is that something you’ve found when playing her? How else would you describe her role?

That’s definitely something I found along the way. I think Katori [Hall] may say that was part of the intention but, when I first signed onto this, I didn't know how big this would be. I didn't know how much story was involved in just this little strip club and the people that come through those doors. So yeah, it's pretty big! It's pretty big. I'm here for it!

How did you find the reaction from fans to you and the character following the release of the first season?

Oh! That reaction, I was overwhelmed but, because I was in quarantine and in the pandemic of it all, I wasn't really out, it allowed me to digest it in a different way; it allowed me to take it in. So, I wasn't too crazy and it wasn't in my face; it was something I could take in bit by bit. But, it makes me proud, it makes me happy, it makes me feel very blessed to be a part of... because there were so many people who might not have experience a non-binary person in their life, or someone who had certain thoughts on life in the LGBTQ+ space, and seeing Uncle Clifford open their eyes to something, to a different way, to a way that they can exist without hate, a way that they can love even though they can be different - I realised the power of artistry from Season 1 and it makes me really, really, really proud.

Picture Credit: STARZ
Picture Credit: STARZ

We heard that the pandemic will be playing a part in the series, so how does that very real situation play out on P-Valley?

Well, we were filming the second season in the midst of the pandemic, truly! So that's a part of what took so long. It's a space built on intimacy and gathering but, everything in the pandemic says you can't gather, you're not supposed to be intimate, you have to be six feet apart and all that sort of stuff. It was very difficult to do but I felt that we were accurate in the depiction that we have for Season 2 because, there were real strip clubs and small businesses that went through this process with the pandemic and, how did they survive?

So, filming the show was definitely a challenge but, I will tell you, I feel that the show in Season 2, it works as a time capsule of sorts, in really holding accountability on how we as a group of people made it through this period of time.

What should audiences expect from Uncle Clifford’s journey in this second season?

I think you should expect to get to know Uncle Clifford as well as all the girls and guys at the Pynk a lot closer. I don't wanna say better; I say closer because you're really up in our faces this season.

I think because of the pandemic and this show is addressing it; it's not something that is beating you over the head and labouring you with it, but I think just the given circumstances of a pandemic has forced everyone to question, 'how far will I go or what will break me? What is going to be my source of strength?' All of those kinds of questions and I think you get to see all the characters, including Uncle Clifford, go through that same kind of experience and through that, you the audience member are going to get to know us in a whole different kind of way and, hopefully you get to see a way out and a way through.

Can you tell us a little bit about a typical day on the set of the show? If indeed there are any typical days on a show like P-Valley!

(laughs) Typical is not a word that I would use, but it usually starts off when the sun is down. You usually get to work and it's still dark outside, and you go to your trailer, then all of a sudden you meet one or two of the girls in the makeup trailer, or guys because we all have the tattoo work and makeup work.

It’s kind of like a Marvel Universe; all of the actors come in and there's this huge transformation happening with hair and makeup and tattoos and wardrobe, there's so many things happening and then probably, maybe around 8'o'clock or so, you make your way to set, you have your rehearsal, then you start shooting and then it's gonna go on and on and on, 'cause you're gonna shoot several scenes.

If you have a dance scene to do, we have a dance studio on set that we use for rehearsal, you're in there stretching, there are yoga blocks, we are working out and getting that stretch on, because you literally have to do the routine while you're filming. We all do have dance doubles, they're in there stretching with you, you have your kiki, we're laughing and making it work, going over the routines with the choreographer to make the craft.

Then you come out and it's almost like going to the club for real, 'cause you have your background artist on set, then you're coming in and the music goes and you have to give a real performance on that pole or on that stage. Really, as Uncle Clifford I'm in-scene, and there's real people all around, so that tangible energy that hopefully is translating to you at home on the screen, it's a bit of what you see behind the stage.

Picture Credit: STARZ
Picture Credit: STARZ

We like to ask all of the people we chat to for Female First three questions! First, which women in your life that you admire have helped shape you as a person?

My mother, my Sandra Dee! I don't know if you know Grease, the movie or the musical, my mom’s name is Sandra but I always call her Sandra Dee from Grease. She has definitely been influential in my life, shaping me and creating a space for me to be able to fly.

Secondly, who have been some of your favourite women to work with?

Some of my favourite women to work with, definitely I'm putting Katori Hall on that list! Also, I would say, Maya Angelou, it was amazing to work with her, such a blessing and shifting point in my career and life. I am going to say... this is such a tossup, Dominique Morisseau, she's another artist and writer I love working with.

I'm gonna say Brandee Evans, the women on this show, Shannon Thornton, Elarica Johnson, Gail Bean, Psalms Salazar… I think it's important working with women in one way, especially on this show because women have an instinct that I think comes second nature to some men, not all of us, but there's a level of nurturing and instinct that supersedes problem solving, so to me it is very strange not to have female directors because, there are a lot of women who run households and corporations. Why would they not be able to direct a show?

I think there's an instinct that little girls start to get early in life, I think it's a lot of things, I don't wanna get too deep but, I think through biology, as women you are prepared for things to happen before they actually do, physically, so that can't help but to affect you mentally and how you move.

Finally, what does the idea of ‘woman’ mean to you?

The first thing that came to my mind, if we're doing a rapid-fire kind of thing, was fierce. When you said 'woman' I felt fierce, and fierce as in ferocious. I think sometimes people think 'woman' and think passive, but one of the reasons I think fire, even in playing Uncle Clifford, I think there's a level of femineity and ferocity. Women just have power in so many different ways and, power doesn't always look so aggressive. There's power in subtlety, there's power in affirmation, there's power in assertiveness so, I would say fierce.

Following its Season 2 premiere on Friday, June 3rd 2022, new episodes of P-Valley will air every Sunday, beginning June 12th, 2022 on STARZPLAY. Season 1 is also currently available on the streaming platform.

RELATED: P-Valley Season 2: Brandee Evans says she felt like Mercedes ‘was her’ [EXCLUSIVE]

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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