The Soul of the South: Nicco Annan Takes Viewers on an Authentic Journey in “Down in the Valley”

(Photo courtesy of STARZ)

Nicco Annan, known for his electrifying portrayal of Uncle Clifford on STARZ’s hit show “P-Valley,” is set to captivate audiences again, but this time from a different angle. Annan is stepping into the realm of documentary with “Down in the Valley,” a six-part series premiering in 2024 on STARZ. This series promises to delve into the heart of the Deep South, offering an intimate and nuanced exploration that is as joyful and magical as it is poignant.

Hosted and executive-produced by Annan, “Down in the Valley” is a Zero Point Zero Production featuring a powerhouse team. Alongside Annan, Pulitzer Prize winner and “P-Valley” creator Katori Hall joins as an executive producer, adding her distinctive voice to the narrative. Emmy and Peabody award-winning Shoshana Guy serves as the showrunner, with Emmy award winners Lydia Tenaglia, Chris Collins, and Jared Andrukanis rounding out the executive production team.
In an exclusive interview, Annan opens up about the inspiration behind the series, the significance of his Detroit roots, and the importance of authenticity in storytelling.

Detroit Roots and Southern Routes
Annan’s journey from Detroit to the Deep South is more than geographical; it’s a soulful exploration of cultural identity and heritage. Reflecting on his Detroit upbringing, Annan shares, “Detroit has always been home for me. It’s a unique place with deep southern roots, and that history shapes who we are. I wanted to bring that same authenticity and depth to ‘Down in the Valley’.”

Annan’s passion for showcasing the South’s rich, often overlooked narratives stems from his own experiences. “Detroiters can’t be impressed easily,” he laughs, “and that’s a testament to the grit and resilience we carry. I wanted to capture that same spirit in this documentary.”

The Magic of Authentic Storytelling
At the heart of “Down in the Valley” is Annan’s commitment to authenticity. “My goal was to show the unique and special aspects of our culture, the things people often try to shame us for,” he says. “We are not ashamed. We are proud.”

Annan’s ability to connect with people and share their stories without judgment is a cornerstone of the series. “My authentic energy allows people to be themselves,” he explains. “I want viewers to see themselves, their families, and their neighbors reflected back at them.”

This authenticity extends to the production team as well. Annan’s experiences have enabled him to assemble a diverse and dynamic group of creators who share his vision. “Having women like Shoshana Guy and other incredible directors and producers around me was crucial,” he says. “We weren’t just highlighting me; we were highlighting the stars of the show – the people of the South.”

A Journey of Joy and Liberation
While “Down in the Valley” is deeply rooted in reality, it is far from a tale of trauma. Annan emphasizes the importance of joy and liberation in the series. “We didn’t want to do anything that was purely traumatic. There’s enough of that. We wanted to show joy, hope, and the magic of our culture.”

He recounts a memorable interaction that encapsulates this spirit. “Someone recently told me, ‘I can see your spirit, and it’s beautiful,’ and that’s what I want this series to convey. It’s about feeling liberated and finding joy in our authentic selves.”

From Scripted to Unscripted: A New Frontier
Transitioning from scripted to unscripted content presents its own set of challenges and rewards. Annan acknowledges this but embraces it wholeheartedly. “There’s joy and pain in both worlds,” he says. “But for me, it’s about doing the work and staying true to my vision.”
His journey has been marked by resilience and a refusal to give up, no matter the obstacles. “People told me I wasn’t ready for TV, that I didn’t have the right look,” he recalls. “But I knew what God told me. I kept going, and now I have ‘Down in the Valley.’ It’s all in the timing.”

Looking Ahead
Annan is hopeful that it will resonate with viewers on a deep level. “If you can get a piece of hope, understanding, or compassion from this show, then I’ve done my job,” he says. “There’s room at the table for everyone, and I want this series to reflect that.”

With its rich tapestry of stories, “Down in the Valley” promises to be more than just a documentary series. It’s a celebration of culture, resilience, and the unbreakable spirit of the South, seen through the lens of one of its most passionate and authentic storytellers.

The P-Valley-inspired docuseries “Down in the Valley” is set to premiere on Friday, June 28, at midnight ET on the STARZ app. For those watching on television, the first episode, “Diamonds of Memphis,” will air on STARZ as planned, followed by the second episode, “Saints & Sinners,” on July 5 at 9 P.M. ET/PT in the U.S. and 10 P.M. ET in Canada.

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