That’s why it was so enlightening for me to watch these women on stage as I started my research for Pussy Valley. Dancing wasn’t about taking their clothes off. It was about putting together an amazing theatrical experience—they looked like superheroes flying around in the air. It felt like I was at Cirque du Soleil, not a strip club. Those images tattooed themselves on my mind. I saw strength, flexibility, and athleticism swirling around a metal pole. I was so inspired I started taking classes to get my twerk right. It sounds great in theory, but I fell off of the pole and got so dizzy I had to run out of the class. I was so nauseous, but it was an entry point: I was able to experience firsthand just how hard pole dancing is. These women make it look easy.
In 2015, after six years of asking questions and making visits to more than 40 clubs across the country, I debuted a three-hour theater production of Pussy Valley in Minneapolis. At the time, my goal was to honor the struggles of these women. Eventually, though, I realized I wanted to see more. I wanted to explore life outside the club and meet the other people in their stories. I started developing what a TV series of the play could look like.
That took four years. Most people would have walked away from this odyssey, but I was so dedicated to telling these stories. I knew I was going to stick this out and see it to the end. I pitched P-Valley to a lot of streaming services and networks in Los Angeles, but I went with STARZ because it was important that I felt supported, both as a female showrunner and female showrunner of color. They were really into my vision of an unapologetic, honest, raw, in-depth exploration of strip club life.
When I started my career, I never could have dreamed that I’d do a TV show dedicated to the world of exotic dancing. But I’m also not surprised, because I walk in the world as a woman who loves women, who respects women, and who always wants to use her work to honor them. My mission statement in life as an artist is to continue providing nuanced portrayals of myself, whether it’s in theater or TV or film. I’m a young Black woman, and I’m dedicated to seeing other young Black women reflected in the mirror.