If you aren't watching P-Valley, you're missing out on being part of television's hottest club (better known as The Pynk). The Starz show, which premiered in June 2020, is a strip-club, drama-filled, musical masterpiece that has group chats around the world (mine included) in a chokehold. Set in the fictional town of Chucalissa, Mississippi, P-Valley follows the complex lives of entertainers at The Pynk. One of The Pynk's top starlets is Keyshawn, known on stage as Mississippi.
Keyshawn, played by Shannon Thornton, is a mother of two who rose to social media fame thanks to her top-tier pole-dancing skills at The Pynk and collaboration with Lil' Murda. While club-goers follow Keyshawn to witness the magic of her Mississippi alter-ego, fans stay for her bubbly personality, relatable hustle, and paradoxical personal life as she tries to escape a troubled abusive relationship.
I got to catch up with Thornton, and the P-Valley fan in me was internally twerking with excitement. Naturally, I had many questions about the actress' breakout role in the hit TV series, but I wouldn't let Thorton go without spilling her beauty secrets. Read ahead for more.
I'm so excited to be chatting with you. I'm a huge P-Valley fan. The show has been a success, and Keyshawn has such a pivotal role. How was it like stepping into this character?
It's been so amazing. We get a lot of love, and this season is definitely different than the first. Elarica Johnson (who plays Autumn Night) and I are big foodies, and we would bounce around to various restaurants and go to different nightclubs, and no one would recognize us. Now, navigating Atlanta has been an adjustment. I was helping Elarica move out of her apartment, and a woman from the leasing office ran full-speed into my arms. It's been so beautiful to see the support and response to the show. Keyshawn is such a nuanced character, and she's helped open many opportunities for me. People who may not have paid attention before are definitely paying attention now.
There are so many physical aspects of playing Keyshawn. How did you prepare for that role?
P-Valley is more than just acting. We're putting on a full Broadway-like production: There's singing, dancing, rapping, and full-on musical numbers, so a lot goes into that. However, as soon as I booked the part, I went into stripper boot camp. I was trained by an incredible competitive pole dancer named Ashley Fox for four months straight—which I did on my own accord. Mississippi is flexible and known for the signature move called spatchcock, so I learned how to do splits. Every day for four months, I'd get down into splits. I watched YouTube videos from gymnasts, and I'm doing pole splits now, which is cool. Unfortunately, Keyshawn is in an abusive relationship, so I watched many videos and pulled from personal experience. However, I didn't want that to sum up who she was. She's super sweet, funny, and vulnerable, so I wanted her to be a well-rounded human.
I feel you all achieved showing different sides of Keyshawn in both seasons. How does she evolve in season two?
You see the aftermath of Murda Night and how that changes everything. Keyshawn glows up and comes into her own in many ways. She uses her vulnerability as her power to get what she wants.
Which character is Shannon most like?
Definitely Mississippi. There's a lot of this character that resonates with me. So many aspects of this woman spoke to me and touched me. I remembered reading the script and knowing no one else could play this part but me.
Glam and beauty are essential to each character's role in the show. What is your beauty routine like when you're off-duty?
I'm definitely more into skincare than makeup. I've been using a lot of Biossance products, including the Amino Aloe Cleanser ($26), Squalene and Vitamin C Oil ($72), and the Marine Algae Eye Cream ($54). My makeup artist on set also introduced me to this lip scrub from Hanalei ($20), which smells like pink lemonade. My routine usually consists of this lineup or similar, so I'm good to go.
Is there anyone on set you share hair or makeup tips with?
I'm always jealous of whatever Uncle Clifford has on [laughs]. I'll walk into the trailer and see these beautiful wigs and think, omg, that's my wig! And the team would be like, "No, it's actually for Uncle Clifford. The same thing happens with nails—there would be this stunning glitter set that I think is mine, but it's for Uncle Cliff. The hair and makeup this season are just so stunning—especially for Clifford—I would swap with Nico any day, and he knows it.
Your job on P-Valley is super physical. How do you practice physical wellness outside of work?
I have a trainer I worked with for both seasons of the show, but I am not a huge fan of working out. I love the results, and they keep me going. However, I will say that a good workout sets the tone for the day and helps me feel good—the process? Not so much.
Walk me through a solo self-care day—what are you doing to stay centered with a busy career?
I like to do guided meditation for ten minutes, and I try to do that every morning. I'd probably light some candles, sage, and palo santo while manifesting what I want for the day or future. I would go through my affirmation cards daily while we were in lockdown, which helped me a lot. After, I'd be blasting Burna Boy.
You mentioned manifesting. What are some things you're looking forward to?
This may seem silly, but I've been on a journey to be a better version of myself lately. I want to be the love I wish to receive and be an all-around better person. It's a common theme in my chats with my girlfriends—we all just want to be what we want to attract, you know?