This story is part of , our podcast featuring interviews with actors, artists, celebrities and creative types about their work, career and current obsessions.
Katori Hall is best known as the Olivier Award-winning playwright behind the play The Mountaintop, which fictionalized the last night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. The 2011 Broadway production featured Samuel L. Jackson as King and Angela Bassett in the role of Camae, a maid. Hall’s latest project is the series P-Valley on Starz, and it couldn’t be more different from The Mountaintop. The show is set in a strip club in the South and follows the lives of the dancers who work there. It’s all about their relationships with themselves, each other and with their customers.
In an episode of CNET’s I’m So Obsessed podcast, Hall explains how P-Valley isn’t the Bada Bing! from The Sopranos or Lickety Splitz on Ozark.
“Let’s be honest, the strip club is a very complicated place. It is a space of exploitation. There are a lot of women who have very horrible stories,” said an impassioned Hall. “I wanted to showcase that this world is not black or white. It is very gray. No one is completely bad. No one’s completely good. There are tropes that have existed in the media when it comes to dancers, like the stripper with the heart of gold.”
Hall said that she decided to take those TV strip club tropes and stereotypes and turn them on their head. The result? P-Valley is a phenomenal show. Currently, it has a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 85. It’s able to be entertaining while tackling weighty themes like domestic abuse, racism and misogyny. Part of what makes P-Valley so good is that it focuses on the lives of the dancers instead of just making them a background prop. A large part of the show’s mojo comes from the fact that the creative team behind the scenes is almost entirely women.
Hall opens up about the show, going to strip clubs as a woman, and the amount of athleticism it takes to pole dance. She also discusses working on the Broadway show Tina: The Tina Turner Musical and why Turner hates the song What’s Love Got to Do with It.
Listen to my entire conversation with Hall on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Check out P-Valley Sunday nights on Starz. You can subscribe to I’m So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about work, career and current obsessions.