'P-Valley': Skyler Joy says Gidget’s ability to be herself felt empowering because she was bullied as a child
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) caught up with Skyler Joy and asked her about being part of 'P-Valley' and her character in particular. Here are excerpts from the exclusive interview
Gidget, the "White Girl Magic" of The Pynk strip club, stands out for her skin color. But as a second-generation stripper, Gidget blends in with Pynk's crowd a lot better than middle-class Autumn Night. Played by Skyler Joy, Gidget's character has been a constant if mostly quiet presence at the club. Her boyfriend is Duffy, her regular client turned boyfriend, who is a big rig driver who also moves drugs across state lines. Gidget's home life might be less than perfect, like the other girls. But what she is mournful about is her fear of heights, which makes her reluctant to pursue her ambition to compete in pole-dancing competitions. MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) caught up with Skyler Joy and asked her about being part of 'P-Valley' and her character in particular. Here are excerpts from the exclusive interview:
Q. Can you tell us about Gidget's personality and how she sees her own life and ambitions?
Gidget has big dreams of competing in pole competitions and leaving the club life but has several obstacles in her way as viewers will see. Other than being a dreamer, Gidget has a huge heart especially for the other dancers at the club. She is loud, quirky, and unapologetic when it comes to being herself. I’ve always interpreted Gidget being a “trailer-park philosopher” as someone who is from a small town in Mississippi but knows it’s possible to achieve her big goals and dreams outside of the club and town.
Q: Gidget is the only white dancer at The Pynk and also a second-generation pole dancer. What is her relationship like with the other dancers?
There is a very strong sisterhood between Gidget and the other girls at the club. Gidget is a part of what’s known as “The Trinity" at the Pynk, which is Mercedes, Keyshawn Aka Miss Mississippi, and Gidget. These three girls are best friends and are the main attractions for the club. I always say that Gidget is the 'ride or die' best friend because she is constantly going out of her way to protect and fulfill the care-taker role in a lot of these women’s lives.
Q: What is her relationship with Mercedes and Uncle Clifford in particular since they seem to run the club between them?
Gidget and Mercedes have known each other for years. When Gidget in the first episode found out Mercedes was planning to leave the club, it broke her heart and definitely caused some jealousy. What I love about their friendship is that no matter what comes between them they still always have each other’s back. Uncle Clifford is someone Gidget can talk to about anything, anytime. She is someone Gidget will never disrespect or talk down to. I think the two have a lot of kindness, patience, and understanding for everything that goes on at the club and outside of it.
Q: What are Gidget's greatest strengths and weaknesses? How did you decide to play her?
Gidget’s greatest strength is the ability to be herself to the fullest at every single moment. That’s one reason I fell in love with this character! I am someone who has struggled with bullying as a child every time I would try to be myself. I remember one of my first school dances I bought these beautiful hair extensions that made my hair look perfect! I was so excited to wear them and get all dolled up for the dance. While I was dancing with some of my friends a few other girls came up behind me and ripped them out and started calling me fake. These were the type of moments I felt I couldn’t be myself, so to play a character that doesn’t care about what people think about her was very empowering for me. Gidget struggles with handling her emotions properly which can be seen as a weakness at times. She has a lot of trauma that she holds in and it can be seen in little outbursts throughout the series. Whether she is crying or screaming it goes from 1 to 100 real quick.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about what you had to do to get ready for the part?
After booking the role of Gidget I knew it was extremely important to feel comfortable on the pole. I worked with Jamaica Craft and Ezama Taumaoe to learn and combine a bunch of tricks to the point I could naturally flow on the pole. I gained a whole new level of respect for women who pole dance -- it’s far from easy! I’d come home with tons of bruises all over my body after spending 4 hours on just one trick! It took a lot of time and practice to feel 100% comfortable and confident on the pole. Then, on set, we had two dialect coaches at all times. In some scenes, I had to pole dance while saying my lines and those were the moments I felt extremely grateful to have the dialect coaches listening to my every word and adjusting me between takes if necessary.
Q: Did you watch the original play or did Nicco Annan who has been in the original play give you any advice?
I wish I was able to watch or read the original play, 'P***y Valley' but unfortunately, I never got the chance. From what Nicco told me the play is very different than the show, but I never got the chance to experience that first hand. Working alongside Nicco Annan who plays Uncle Clifford was such a great experience. Nicco from the moment I met him has always been genuine and kind to me. On set, he always had such great energy that it would literally rub off on everyone on set even if it was 4 am and we were all exhausted! I had a joke with Nicco on set that everything he said sounded like a motivational quote, and I loved it!
'P-Valley' airs on Sundays at 8 PM ET on Starz.