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FutureStarrA Deep Dive Into the Complex Character of Mercedes in 'P-Valley'
P-Valley on STARZPLAY has earned critical acclaim for its depiction of strip clubs. Viewers get to follow the lives of employees working at The Pynk, a strip club located in Chucalissa, Mississippi.
Brandee Evans (Brandee Woodbine) is one of the more complex characters in P-Valley. Digital Spy recently spoke with her about how her character has developed over time.
Starz has recently been on an impressive roll, providing their viewers with shows that explore unheard from subcultures and perspectives. Vida features LGBTQ and Latinx characters while Provincetown locals in Hightown provide unique perspectives, all the while the network strives to break down barriers that prevent all backgrounds from being seen by media.
P-Valley, Starz's latest addition to its slate, showcases how far this network is pushing when it comes to depicting life from female perspectives - Black or otherwise - while queer. Premiering in July 2020, P-Valley follows The Pynk club members in Chucalissa Mississippi while exploring their inner struggles as well as all that comes with operating a strip club.
Though many of the cast of P-Valley may face personal struggles, they strive to put aside these problems each night to provide an unforgettable performance at The Pynk. This is especially true of its female performers who often depict difficulty letting go of past relationships and accepting their new identities.
Mercedes (Harriett Dana Foy) is one of the more complex characters in P-Valley, yet she remains highly relatable to viewers as she shares many of the same struggles as viewers themselves. While Mercedes wants to make money, she is also deeply spiritual and willing to sacrifice any wealth in order to serve God more fully.
She has an unhealthy relationship with her mother, Patrice Woodbine, who manipulates her into making decisions she doesn't agree with - creating strain between herself and her father who also has an unhealthy bond with his daughter.
Mercedes remains immensely loyal to her father despite the strain in their relationships; in fact, she has even assisted him with some of his financial difficulties.
But while she loves her father deeply, she may not always show it; rather she can be quite manipulative and will do whatever is necessary to get what she wants.
Mercedes has an affection for Uncle Clifford, but is uncertain of his intentions - whether they truly love her or merely pretend. (She suspects Lil Murda may just be an act.)
Patrice Woodbine, Mercedes' mother, is a formidable figure who uses her power to take advantage of those vulnerable. In Season One of P-Valley she betrayed Mercedes by using her money to open Woodbine's Church; now we see Mercedes (Brandee Evans) struggling to accept this act of deceit and manage her feelings toward her mother.
Evans spoke with Digital Spy about how she introduced her mother into the series and their current relationship. Additionally, she shared how it felt when her mother left and what viewers can expect in Season Two.
Mercedes shared that her mother was a serial killer, forcing Mercedes to give up Terricka, now pregnant at 15. Her story comes to light in Episode 7, Jackson when Mercedes is faced with making the same decision her mother did - judging pregnant black women by both racist white people and religious extremists for having children.
Mercedes has endeavored to be the best parent possible and shows her care for Terricka by taking her out for dinner and inviting her to Jackson for an abortion procedure. Unfortunately, Terricka finds her situation hard to bear as she grapples with feelings associated with having a child and whether or not to undergo abortion.
Pole dancing at P-Valley requires great strength from its performers, so the cast only uses stunt doubles for moves involving falling down poles or hitting ceilings. Luckily, Evans herself is an extremely skilled dancer with enough athleticism to bring everything to life.
Craft, who choreographs the dance scenes on P-Valley, credits Evans for bringing her character's athleticism to the screen. Evans is a professional dancer trained under some of the top choreographers and possessing the necessary moves that are seen throughout the show.
P-Valley, Starz's critically acclaimed exotic dancer drama, depicts Mercedes as an intriguing yet emotionally turbulent character who struggles with her relationship with her mother. Mercedes was disappointed to learn her dreams of opening up her own gym were dashed when her money was taken by her mother to fund their church; since then, Mercedes has had another rough start to season 2.
Evans talked to Digital Spy about Mercedes' emotions following her mother's betrayal, including how to deal with it and where their relationship stands now.
She told us she believed fans will witness a significant transformation in their toxic relationship as the show continues, noting "I think there may be some forgiveness for her as she starts to realize what she has done and understand that not just her mother has hurt her."
Evans noted that there are some powerful scenes when viewers witness Mercedes and Terricka at the diner. It's evident that Mercedes regrets how her parents treated her while she was growing up, so she wants to ensure she doesn't repeat that same error with Terricka.
On their journey to the clinic, Mercedes takes time to reflect upon a moment she wishes had never occurred in her life. She recalls an embarrassing episode she experienced with her mom when she was still young enough not to have access to proper guidance in making decisions about her body.
After this realization, she's able to come to terms with her past and take action. She tells Terricka she doesn't have to live with a child she doesn't love anymore and lets her go.
At the same time, she finds solace in Hailey and encourages her to do what's necessary in order to bring back her daughter.
Mercedes and Terricka share an emotionally charged scene that showcases how much their relationship has evolved since Terricka was murdered, providing space for each to express themselves freely and open up about their grief. It's an essential scene that illustrates just how devastating her murder had been on them, making sense that they would seek healing as time goes by.
Mercedes and her daughter Terricka's relationship is one of the most complicated in 'P-Valley.' Cortez, her late husband, made it clear he wanted Terricka to live with Shelle instead of Mercedes.
Mercedes and Terricka face an emotionally taxing decision here. Mercedes remains close to Terricka but cannot help wondering if she is truly happy in her new relationship with Shelle. Furthermore, Mercedes feels guilty over Terricka being absent in their lives.
Mercedes is a strong-willed individual, yet she struggles with accepting that Terricka has another mother outside herself and cannot provide all of the love and attention her daughter requires.
Mercedes may seem self-serving at first, but she actually makes a compelling case. Terricka should know she is her own daughter, not being forced into sexual relations with Terricka's father's wife; thus allowing her the choice to live her own life according to her desires.
Mercedes and Terricka discover Terricka has been pregnant in "Jackson", an emotional moment that highlights both of their roles as they realize Mercedes has not known how to be an effective mother and has caused irreparable harm through her mistakes in caring for Terricka.
Mercedes and Terricka share an emotionally intense bond, one which can often be quite complex yet moving in P-Valley. At one point during an episode Mercedes opens up to Terricka about her pregnancy and their feelings surrounding it.
Mercedes confides in Terricka that she is experiencing significant difficulties and seeking ways to support herself financially. Additionally, she needs help finding employment so she can continue living her life independently.
Mercedes and Terricka share an emotional connection, so this momentous meeting between them is both powerful and moving. At heart, Terricka feels just as strongly for her mother than Mercedes does.
Mercedes has struggled for years to reconcile her relationship with her daughter. Unfortunately, due to financial challenges and her mother's unwillingness to allow her to become a mother herself, this process has proven challenging for Mercedes. But things may finally be changing: Mercedes is getting back on her feet, working to find a job which makes her truly fulfilled.