Nicci Gilbert Wants ‘P-Valley’ Writers to Pay for Allegedly Using Her Play’s Concept

Nicci Gilbert released her stage play 'Soul Kittens Cabaret' in 2011. She said Starz's show 'P-Valley' has "little nuances" of her stage project.

Elizabeth Randolph - Author

Jun. 7 2022, Published 6:24 p.m. ET

(l-r): Nicci Gilbert and the 'P-Valley' cast
Source: Getty Images/Starz

After airing its pilot in July 2020, P-Valley instantly received a second season. Many viewers enjoyed watching the characters interact throughout the Starz show and were eager to see what was happening with the Pynk crew in Chucalissa, Miss. In case you forgot, P-Valley follows several exotic dancers and their eccentric nonbinary boss, Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan), balancing their personal and professional lives.

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While P-Valley — which premiered its second season in June 2022 — has received support from celebrities like Megan Thee Stallion (who attended the show’s Season 2 red carpet premiere), not everyone has been pleased with the Katori Hall–written series. Singer Nicci Gilbert believes that P-Valley stole her idea from a stage play she previously wrote, in order to make a “mediocre” TV adaptation.

Here’s what Nicci has said about suing P-Valley’s team.

Nicci Gilbert speaking during an interview.
Source: Getty Images

Nicci Gilbert

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Nicci Gilbert wrote a play called ‘Soul Kittens Cabaret,’ which was released in 2011.

Nicci rose to fame in the 1990s as the lead singer of Brownstone. When the group split up, she moved into acting, with guest appearances on Martin, Living Single, and Sister, Sister. Then, Nicci launched her solo music career during the '00s and eventually started writing music for her albums. In 2003, she wrote the script for a play called Soul Kittens Cabaret.

Nicci told theJasmineBRAND in January 2022 that Soul Kittens Cabaret was inspired by her childhood. Her mother worked as a cabaret singer, and Nicci recalled growing up around other dancers, including a woman named Lawanda, who was “​​my first example of, like, a transgender person.”

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She also said she secured the rights to her play in 2005 and released a DVD of it in 2011. Nicci asked fellow R&B artists Fantasia, Faith Evans, Syleena Johnson, Monifah, and KeKe Wyatt to star in her project.

After Nicci released the DVD for Soul Kittens Cabaret, she created R&B Divas on TV One. She said that around the same time, she pitched a “spinoff” of the play to Lionsgate in 2014, but that the studio declined a screen version of Soul Kittens Cabaret.

Nicci moved on to other ventures, but after Katori turned her own stage play P-ssy Valley into the TV show P-Valley, Nicci felt it looked a lot like Soul Kittens Cabaret.

Nicci claimed multiple people, including her husband, Leonard Daniels, showed her the similarities between Soul Kittens Cabaret and P-Valley.

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After noticing the similarities to 'Soul Kittens Cabaret,' Nicci Gilbert filed a lawsuit against ‘P-Valley.'

Nicci noted that, like her play, P-Valley has a “gender-fluid" and "lovable character." Additionally, the cabaret in Nicci's play receives threats of getting shut down by a local businessman looking to build a casino. P-Valley fans should be familiar with this plot since it was a significant part of Season 1.

Nicci also claimed the writers used “little nuances” from her characters, including a “shy” new girl entering the cabaret, like P-Valley’s central character, Autumn Knight (Elarica Johnson).

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Despite noticing the nuances, Nicci said she initially wouldn’t file a lawsuit against P-Valley’s writers. However, she couldn’t shake the comparisons and decided to protect her art. Nicci has also shared her thoughts about the show on social media.

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Following its Season 2 premiere, Nicci took to Instagram and Twitter and said Katori “underutilized” popular P-Valley characters such as Uncle Clifford and Mercedes (Brandee Evans). She then bashed Katori’s writing, even though P-Valley has won multiple awards since it aired.

“It’s SO obvious that the writer of last night’s episode had NO idea where to take this story because she didn’t create it,” Nicci captioned an Instagram video. “I have yet to see said writer write an ORIGINAL thought or idea.”

“I don’t care how many awards, accolades, or dollars the machine pumps into her,” she continued. “You have to do the WORK, and you can’t hide behind remixing other people's stories and experiences and try to fool the people.”

Neither Katori nor P-Valley’s cast has addressed Nicci’s claims publicly.

You can catch new episodes of P-Valley Fridays on Starz.

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