EXCLUSIVE: Nicci Gilbert Explains Why She Filed ‘P-Valley’ Lawsuit, Why She Took Legal Action: I Deserve To Be Heard!
In an exclusive interview with theJasmineBRAND.com, Nicole “Nicci” Gilbert-Daniels goes in-depth about the lawsuit she filed against P-Valley, the similarities between her project and the show, how she first discovered them, and her road to the courthouse.
As previously reported, news broke about the STARZ drama P-Valley is being hit with a lawsuit. Nicci Gilbert, a ’90s R&B artist, claimed that her 2011 musical stage play, Soul Kittens Cabaret, shared enough similarities with the series to warrant a lawsuit. According to reports, Gilbert filed a civil suit, seeking actual and statutory damages, along with a jury trial.
Soul Kittens Cabaret, which was released on DVD, starred Faith Evans, Syleena Johnson, Fantasia Barrino, Monifah, and Angie Stone. Some of those ladies went on to appear in Gilbert’s TV One reality show R&B Divas. The show was inspired by the play.
While the ongoing suit has prevented Gilbert from thoroughly speaking about certain topics, she described how she pitched her play as a spin-off for Lionsgate in 2014. She said:
“It wasn’t a play that was pitched, it was a spin-off. Pretty much the same thing that the other show is. It was a spin-off idea called ‘Curtains.'”
The show used the same script and synopsis as Soul Kittens Cabaret. Gilbert noted that this was similar to what the creator of P-Valley had done, adding:
“Yeah, much like she did.”
Gilbert spoke about how she concluded that P-Valley was a lot like her project. Choosing her words carefully with the lawsuit in mind, she explained:
“Long story short, I remember getting phone calls like, ‘hey, congratulations,’ and then my husband’s like, ‘you gotta check this out.’ And then, you know, I watched and…that was that.”
Instead of pointing out key similarities, Gilbert detailed her play and highlighted the aspects that were most important to her. Although Gilbert herself did not explain how the two aligned, she stated that P-Valley fans should be able to pick up on how they mirror each other. She also mentioned that Soul Kittens Cabaret was written in 2003, copyrighted in 2004, and officially kicked off in 2005 with a stage reading.
Describing the background of the play, she stated:
“It’s based on my hometown of Detroit. So, if you know Bert’s Bakers, Bowmax, all of these cool little juke joint, hole-in-the-wall [clubs]. My mom was a jazz singer, so I kind of grew up in these places. Like, she’d go rehearse with the band during the day and I would be sitting at the bar watching her.”
“I would see all these stories. There was a woman who did my hair–I believe her name was Lawanda–everybody in Detroit probably knows her. She was transgender. It was my first example of, like, a transgender person.”
She went on:
“The story is about a TaTa Burlesque, who owns this burlesque cabaret risque venue in the city, it’s been around forever. There’s the spirit of previous dancers there as well. A new girl comes from out of town–middle of nowhere–she comes in and auditions for him and they embrace her but it’s a bunch of stuff that goes on.”
“Obviously, I was really proud of the fact that this was the first time–this is 2004, remember–that a gender-fluid character that was so loveable and so open and so real, which is what everybody loves about the current situation. I was really proud of being someone who wrote a character that people hadn’t seen like that.”
She gave more insight into the plot:
“…The club is being taken over by an antagonist because they want to build a casino. A lot of the exchanges were just spot on for me. I was like, ‘oh, wow.’ The story is that the girl comes in and, ultimately, they save the club.”
“There are a lot of other little nuances such as the girl being super shy and not really in that space and the lead dancer who’s been there for a while who’s like, ‘when I leave here, I’m going to open up a women’s center.'”
Prior to P-Valley‘s debut, Gilbert said that she’d experienced “a lot of losses,” including her best friend and business partner, and both of her parents. When the show aired, she was apprehensive about taking legal action. Of her initial feelings about the show and moving forward with a lawsuit, Gilbert said:
“I was like ‘nope’ because it doesn’t matter, I don’t care, it is what it is…sh*t happens.”
After giving it some thought, she changed her mind:
“I knew how important it was to fight for what you believe in as a creator. As a woman of color, so often we’re beat down into being, ‘just don’t say nothing, everybody’s going to think you’re a horrible person.'”
“The reason I decided to go forward…I realized that young women have to not be afraid, creatives have to not be afraid. It’s the court’s decision…but I truly believe that I deserve to be heard.”
P-Valley has one season under its belt and was renewed for a second season. Created by Katori Hall, the popular show is based on her 2015 play P*ssy Valley, which chronicles the lives of the employees at a Missippi strip club. Both STARZ and Lionsgate have chosen not to comment on the case.
What are your thoughts on the information Nicci exclusively shared with TheJasmineBrand? Leave us a comment and let us know!