How ‘P-Valley’ Actor Elarica Johnson Learned Her Southern Accent
Elarica Johnson stars on P-Valley as Autumn Night, one of the most popular dancers working at the Chucalissa, Mississippi strip club The Pynk. But what a lot of fans might not realize is that she’s actually British. Clearly, Johnson is able to nail regional dialect and slang – a true testament to her talent. But she admits it wasn’t easy. Here’s more about her role on the TV show and how she was able to perfect her Southern accent.
How Elarica Johnson got ‘P-Valley’
Hailing from London, Johnson had already appeared in projects such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) when she found out about P-Valley. She told Euphoria Magazine she was drawn to the show out of admiration for creator Katori Hall and the “complexity” of her characters.
“I was also interested because we were showcasing a world that people often look down upon, so we’re showing the world that they are also wonderful, powerful women,” she continued.
Johnson, 31, managed to get the part, but that were more challenges ahead, like settling into her character and learning to speak with a Southern accent.
“I’m not the best at accents,” she confessed to Glass Magazine, “but I’ve got the general American one down, so adding the southern vibe to the accent was difficult, but we worked really hard and we got through it – I like to think my character Autumn Night comes across as quite authentic!”
There was 1 person specifically who helped her nail her accent for ‘P-Valley’
Johnson told Inside Hollywood she specifically had help from Hall, who hails from Memphis. She explained Hall would break the dialect down for the cast and helped them learn how to pronounce certain things.
“Katori talked about slang-language,” she said, “like her putting together all these dialects and kind of creating this one sound more so for the rest of the cast and really sitting on the southern side of things and not being afraid to pronounce things as strong as they sound and not being worried that the audience won’t understand because you do.”
“There’s words I read and was like ‘What is that?’ because she writes as the slang is said, so it’s written like that so you can say it. But I had to learn. I really really had to learn,” Johnson continued.
“Accent-wise, I am rubbish at accents,” she added. “It’s always like my fear. I can do American because that’s half of the work done. But this southern side of things … it was a long journey, let’s say, getting everything right, or as right as it could be. But we had amazing dialect coaches. … That support was everything.”
Going by the success of the show — which was quickly renewed for season 2 after its debut — it’s safe to say Johnson has done a great job. Here’s wishing her even more success moving forward.