Showrunner Shoshana Guy And Host Nicco Annan Tackle Misconceptions and Evolving Perceptions in ‘Down In The Valley’

The series, which delves into stripper culture, debuts Friday on STARZ.

Step into the world of rhinestones, neon lights, and gravity-defying dance moves—welcome to the fascinating, misunderstood realm of stripper culture. From the burlesque beauties of the 1860s that scandalized and captivated audiences to the modern-day pole artists who blend athleticism with art, stripping has always danced on the edge of societal norms. Beyond the glitz and glamour lies a story of empowerment, resilience, and raw talent. If you give gymnasts their props, what’s the difference with a dancer? 

Fans are already captivated by the critically acclaimed series “P-Valley,” which tells the story of a diverse group of people working at The Pynk, a popular strip club in the fictional town of Chucalissa, Mississippi. STARZ delves even deeper with the spinoff, “Down in The Valley.” Inspired by the original show, this docuseries will spotlight the real lives of dancers in the Deep South, offering a tapestry of stories that will leave you feeling joyous, emotional, and empowered. 

Hosted by  Nicco Annan, “Down in The Valley” promises to be an intimate, powerful exploration of the dancers' lives beyond the spotlight.

During a conversation with showrunner Shoshana Guy and Annan, the duo opened up about their evolving perspectives on stripper culture. Guy expressed delight in "humanizing women and Black women in particular."

“Historically speaking, we have been so dehumanized. It's not just about someone else's pleasure – behind offering someone pleasure or offering desire is a whole human being with their own struggles, with their own dreams, with children, with many of the women being mothers,” she passionately shared. 

2023 NAACP Image Awards: 'P-Valley's' Nicco Annan Wins ‘Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series’

Annan explained his excitement for being part of this in-depth project. “One of the great things I love about this series is we’re able to explore how every single person attached to the world of sex work has their own entry point and reason for doing it. Sometimes it's an economic thing, while for others, it’s about accessibility because everyone doesn't have the opportunity to go to certain colleges to get certain types of education. But that doesn’t make them any less intelligent,” he expressed.

Annan has been with the “P-Valley” franchise since early 2009, auditioning and snagging the role of Uncle Clifford. The actor spent years fleshing out the character as he continued to portray the role in the theater circuit, from small stages to a big production in 2015 at the Mixed Blood Theater. Portraying a non-binary character during that time is a challenge in itself. Still, the NAACP Image Award recipient shared the biggest obstacle he had to face that has shaped his perspective on handling challenges in life. “One of the things that I have always overcome is seeing how people perceive me and the box that people try to put me in; that's not something new to me,” he began. “When I’m met with people trying to question that to this day, I laugh on the inside, and then I just exhale because I'm like, lord, you still doing the same thing from when I was 13 – now, I’m able to embrace it and own it in a different way.” 

Misconceptions can be common in any space, whether you’re a dancer or an actor. Although he does a fantastic job, Annan wants fans to remember that he is not his real character. “I’m an actor,” he laughed. “It is my voice, and there’s no voice modulator. It’s like Denzel Washington and all the different roles he plays, it’s his voice. I use my full range as Uncle Clifford and don’t feel restriction, similar to how I don’t feel restriction in my day-to-day life.” 

“Down In The Valley” promises to be a transformative journey, shedding light on the real lives behind the performances and celebrating the resilience and humanity at its core. With Annan and Guy at the helm, viewers are invited to witness a powerful testament to the courage, determination, and the unyielding spirit of these dancers. It’s a story that goes beyond entertainment—challenges perceptions and amplifies voices that deserve to be heard. 

The docu-series debuts on STARZ on Friday, July 5, at midnight ET on the STARZ app and on linear at 9:00 PM ET/PT. 

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