Christiana Valenzuela

Brandee Evans isn’t one to sit back and let an opportunity pass her by. Case in point: when the actress first heard about P-Valley, a TV show about a popular strip club in Mississippi, she was immediately intrigued.

“First of all, I could not get an audition,” the 37-year-old exclusively tells GRAZIA USA. “When I first heard about the show, I thought, ‘I would love to try out.’ I reached out to my agent, and my agent had already heard about it and tried to pitch me.”

From there, she thought about how she could make herself stand out, so she booked a photoshoot where she showed off a long and straight with bangs wig, but she didn’t end up scoring the role. Evans was just about to give up, but she decided to call her manager, and she ended up sending her photos of herself as a dance coach. “I got an audition within 24 hours,” she recalls. “I was like, ‘I have not read the script, I have not done anything.’ I was like, ‘Every other girl is going to twerk, I have to be different.’ I did a slow routine in a chair, and I got the call back. The rest was history!”

Since then, the brunette beauty has made a name of herself, as she headlines the Starz drama series. Season 2 premiered in early June, and the episodes will pick back up on July 24. “This season we’re going to be tackling the pandemic,” she shares. “Viewers will see the good, the bad and the ugly. Fans are in for a roller-coaster ride! Also, Mercedes and her daughter’s dynamics will be shown. I think you’ve seen a lot of her in the club, but you haven’t gotten to know the backstory on her and what’s going on outside the club.”

Ultimately, the storylines “challenge” Evans — especially when it comes to pole dancing. “I thought I could dance until I had to touch a pole for season 2,” she quips. “After taking two years off and not being on a pole, my strength is different. It was like starting from scratch — but worse. I get to dive into a sexier side, which was new for Mercedes. I think the audience will enjoy seeing that storyline as well.”

“My favorite part about playing Mercedes is her confidence and the fact that she may get down, but she will always get back up,” she adds. “I love watching her defy the odds. When people think they’ve count her out, she proves them wrong. I love that.”

Evans notes that in order to tap into Mercedes’ head, she draws from personal experiences and past experiences. For instance, the TV star is the current CEO of the Hip Hop In Heels®️ Fitness Platform, which was created to empower women to feel sexy and confident.

DeWayne Rogers

“I used to be very insecure with my body,” she recalls. “When I started teaching, I would tell the ladies to wear shorts. I think they thought I was trying to make them sexy, but I was really trying to find the confidence in myself. It reminded me how to be confident with my own self, and I want to spread that.”

The Tennessee native wants to change the narrative, which is why she often goes makeup-free on social media. “I’ll go live and just talk to my fans with no makeup or let them see me getting my hair done to normalize what’s really happening because I’m not perfect,” she declares. “Know that what comes out of your head and what your skin looks like without anything on is beautiful.”

Clearly, Evans is on the fast track, as she has earned critical acclaim for her role in P-Valley. “I am so honored to play Mercedes,” she gushes. “I’m still taking it in every day. It’s afforded me so many amazing opportunities. It’s allowed me to speak to the underserved voices in the community, and I love being an advocate for that. It’s a beautiful thing, and I am taking it day by day.”

Evans never thought she would be where she is, and it’s all because she took a leap of faith. “Don’t give up,” she shares. “No isn’t no until it’s over. Don’t be afraid to try again because all you need is one opportunity. Do not give up on yourself!”

P-Valley Season 2 airs on Starz on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET.