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‘Women empowerment’: College student plays DJ in series on Southern strip club

The series “P-Valley” centers on the lives of those who work in a strip club. (Courtesy of Starz)

Brandon Gilpin is flying high these days.

Although he’s still in a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Gilpin is basking in the glow of his first role in a TV series – “P-Valley” – which airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on Starz.

The series centers on a little-strip-club-that-could and those who come through its doors – the hopeful, the lost, the broken, the ballers, the beautiful, and the damned – and shows what happens when people in a small town dream big.

The show delves deeply into the complex lives of its characters and the Southern culture that surrounds them.

Gilpin plays DJ Neva Scared, the strip club’s underage DJ who is the rhythm and heartbeat of the establishment.

A nerdy student by day, he takes on a completely different persona at night as the standout comic relief for the series, which can get dark and gritty.

The series was created by Katori Hall.

“The writing is everything,” Gilpin says. “Katori’s writing is completely amazing. When I read the script, there were so many complexities that drove the story forward.”

According to Gilpin, Hall wanted to show a different side to the strip club world. In the past, there have always been these hypersexualized images of black women, Gilpin says.

Hall wanted to highlight these women in a different way, and the series is in service of those who are marginalized and made to feel ashamed and dehumanized, Gilpin says.

“This series is about women empowerment,” he says. “I was raised by my mother and sister, and having that voice of empowerment is important for me. The amount of physical and emotional strength needed from these women to go out and make a living is amazing. Each night these women could easily fall on their face. But they are strong enough to push through and earn a living.”

Brandon Gilpin

Gilpin came into the show with some trepidation, but it quickly subsided once he was on set.

While there were no huge obstacles, he worked hard to get down his character’s dialect.

“He’s from Mississippi, and there’s an entirely different dialect,” he says. “I put the pressure on that, because it needed to be perfect. Neva reminds me a lot of myself, because he’s a hustler. I am constantly creating content and pushing myself to the next page, the next step. In order to make it, you have to keep moving. We share that ethic.”

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