‘P-Valley’: The Real-Life Inspiration Behind Uncle Clifford
P-Valley is a TV show about exotic dancers, but it’s told in a way that humanizes them and brings light to the industry. At the center is Uncle Clifford, the fashion-savvy, gender-fluid boss of the club who acts as a sort of den mother to the women who dance there. But is Uncle Clifford based on anyone?
Creator Katori Hall once explained how she came up with Uncle Clifford for ‘P-Valley’
Released in July 2020, P-Valley is an adaptation of Hall’s 2015 play P*ssy Valley. In an interview with Collider, Hall opened up about the show, including how she came up with Uncle Clifford. While the character isn’t based on any one person, Hall says she’s a “fusion” of her mom, dad, and Uncle Clifford.
“I had three amazing human beings who raised and reared me, and I wanted to create a character that paid homage to them,” she explained. “I always try, in everything that I do, to name a character after a family member. I feel that it’s a way to honor ancestry. So, I wanted to attach Uncle Clifford’s name to this character.”
But Hall pointed out that there are big differences between her real uncle and the fictionalized one. “He’s completely different from the fictionalized Uncle Clifford, but he’s got lots to say,” she continued.
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When coming up with characters, Hall wanted someone who “was really able to live in the masculine and the feminine equally.” At first, she wrote Uncle Clifford as a pre-op transgender woman. But “then, I felt that I just really wanted to have a character who felt like a mother, but also sometimes felt like a pimp, all within a few seconds of each other,” she told Collider.
Hall added, “I find it very interesting that, while Uncle Clifford can be very nurturing, Uncle Clifford can also lay down the law, and oftentimes uses their maleness and their privilege in order to try to have more power in a world that is very oppressive, particularly to women and especially down south. Uncle Clifford has been an absolute joy to create.”
Fans are loving Uncle Clifford too
Played by Nicco Annan, Uncle Clifford has become an absolute fan-favorite on P-Valley. Viewers love her for her sassy attitude, no-nonsense ways, and fashionable looks, which Annan admits drew him to the role.
“I knew that when I read this, I was like ‘this is big, in a very unique kind of way,'” he told Awards Watch of his reaction when he read Uncle Clifford’s character description.
“The thing that gave it away to me literally was in those first four pages and it was the stage description when you first see Uncle Clifford,” Annan continued. “It said something to the effect of, ‘Uncle Clifford emerges from the shadows, eyelashes dancing like butterfly wings and nails like evil talons. She is equal in measure, masculine and feminine. Uncle Clifford.’ And I was just like ‘Wow. Who’s that?’ You know?”
Uncle Clifford will be back on your TV screens for season 2, which was approved in the summer of 2020. There’s no release date just yet, but it is expected to air sometime between 2021 and 2022. Stay tuned.