‘P-Valley’s Elarica Johnson Teases Autumn’s ‘Downfall’ Amid The Fight For The Pynk

Autumn is in full-on business mode in 'P-Valley' season 2, for better or for worse. HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Elarica Johnson about Autumn's new role, her 'downfall,' and 'something different' brewing with Andre.

Elarica Johnson
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Image Credit: STARZ

Autumn Night saved The Pynk but that didn’t mean the club’s troubles were over. The COVID-19 pandemic hit The Pynk hard at the beginning of P-Valley season 2. Autumn and Uncle Clifford have had to find ways to pull through the pandemic and all the changes thrown their way. The drama remains top-tier, and the friction continues to increase as Autumn and Uncle Clifford’s visions clash.

Elarica Johnson spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about Autumn’s new role at The Pynk. As Autumn views the club as more of a business and less as a home, the tension with Uncle Clifford will get “worse.” With Autumn’s “business mind” so laser-focused, Elarica admitted that will be her character’s “downfall” this season. Read our full Q&A below:

Elarica Johnson
Autumn and Uncle Clifford in ‘P-Valley.’ (STARZ)

Hailey/Autumn has taken on a bit of a different role right away at the beginning of this new season. She’s now in a leadership position at The Pynk after saving the club, and it’s provided quite the interesting, tumultuous dynamic with Uncle Clifford. What can you say about this will continue to evolve? I feel like it’s very much a push-pull between them. 
Elarica Johnson: It continues like that. It really does. I think the relationship that they had at the very beginning, it took a long time for them to realize that they just cared about each other. Clifford wanted to make sure that Hailey was okay, and Hailey felt like Clifford was this mother figure and that finally she had someone who was taking care of her. But in season 2 now, because of this struggle, they kind of forget those nice moments that they had in the past season. Unfortunately, it blows up. We think it’s getting better, and then it gets worse, which is a shame because they’re such beloved characters. They could have a fantastic relationship if they were just on the same page, but they’re very strong-minded people. The place means so much to Clifford, but it could make a lot of money for them. It’s that push and pull.

Uncle Clifford is definitely ride or die when it comes to The Pynk. With Autumn, what is her view of The Pynk? Does she ultimately see it as a business deal? Does she see it as a home? What are her true motives at the moment? 
Elarica Johnson: It’s a business situation. It’s unfortunate because there is a home space for her. She definitely felt that with the girls. It was surprising to her because all she wanted to do really was find a place to hide so that she can move forward and get on with what she was doing. But actually, she found friends. She found somewhere that she could belong for a little while. So now when it comes down to money, and she’s in a space where she’s like, okay, this is my job. This is what I’m good at. I can make a lot of money from this. She’s forgetting those relationships and that kind of home environment because her business mind is on. So, unfortunately, that’s going to be a little bit of her downfall. But she’s smart and she wants to make money for herself, but also for the people at The Pynk. You see that as the season goes on. She’s trying to make the best decision.

There’s a lot of baggage at The Pynk considering what happened at the end of last season. We found out that Mercedes is the one who killed Montavius. Mercedes, Autumn, and Uncle Clifford are all haunted by this in their own way. Will we continue to see Autumn reflecting back on that moment and what it meant for her? 
Elarica Johnson: There are moments where you kind of see her feeling his presence, and you may see him on the screen. But her relationship with Montavius was such a dark thing in her mind that it’s so nice that she’s now able to kind of focus on something else. The business part of it is really kind of taken her mind away from that time and what happened, but everybody is affected. As you saw with Mercedes and her 7 pounds of pressure, the same with Clifford who keeps on bringing it up. I think that’s more the time where she has to go back to those moments because Clifford will say, “Hey, remember what happened? Remember what you bought here? Remember what we did?” So I think The Pynk itself is a big distraction for her, but it will haunt her forever.

Elarica Johnson
Elarica Johnson in ‘P-Valley’ season 2. (STARZ)

Could Autumn’s intense business vision for The Pynk get her into trouble? I feel like there are a lot of people with money who want to get their hands on this property. Things could get dicey very quickly. 
Elarica Johnson: Dicey is a good word. I like that. In some ways, she’s making some really fantastic relationships with some very cool new characters, and she really puts her business foot forward. She kind of grows in that space. But of course, anything to do with money and business can always get a bit messy, especially when you get above yourself. I think Autumn kind of let it all go to her head a little bit at one point. It gets dicey, but there’s always a sneaky little way out and Autumn finds that whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing for everybody else.

I feel like she always manages to find the one escape route that there is. When it comes to Mercedes, I have loved that blossoming friendship between her and Autumn. However, things aren’t going too well at the moment. Maybe out of all the relationships at The Pynk, is her relationship with Mercedes the one that Autumn cares the most about salvaging? 
Elarica Johnson: I think they are so similar in so many ways, and the reason why they butt heads is because of that same thing. I mean, at the very beginning Autumn had a bit of a difficult relationship with Mercedes because Mercedes was the girl on top. She didn’t want anybody to come and take her space. When they started to see eye to eye, you could see this really nice relationship forming. And then, of course, COVID happens. Here’s Mercedes with this bedroom for her daughter, which is sacred, and now she’s letting Autumn stay in it. It’s quite a big deal when you really do that for someone that you really care about. There is a lot of love, but then Mercedes finds it difficult to be in a situation where she can’t really trust somebody. Unfortunately, Autumn kind of goes against the trust side of things. It is tough because they’re such good characters to be friends. Everybody wants it. But the relationship definitely doesn’t go that way at the very start.

I feel like in this moment, Autumn is still very much in that fight or flight mode. She’s also protecting herself more than anything else. Her self-preservation instinct always kicks in.
Elarica Johnson: Well, she’s had to do that. She’s had quite a difficult life, and she’s had to be in charge of the decisions that she makes. It’s her and nobody else, so she continues that throughout.

When it comes to Andre, there’s definitely still some chemistry there. Where is that going to go?
Elarica Johnson: I think everybody wants something to happen with them, even though it’s not the best situation. Autumn doesn’t feel comfortable with the fact that he has a wife. But the way that it started out this season, as you saw in the first episode, he’s still angry at her. He’s still upset with her. But they have this kind of energy that pulls them together. So for me, I definitely think and have had conversations with Katori [Hall], they are soulmates. That will continue happening moving on, whether or not they end up together is a different thing. But they have this special thing. As the season goes on, you can definitely see something grow, something different that we didn’t see last season. But I enjoy watching that relationship as teasing as it is. There’s definitely something different this season.

Do you think Autumn is even ready ultimately for a romantic relationship?
Elarica Johnson: I think that’s the biggest question. I honestly believe that, no, they wouldn’t be together. I don’t think the issue here is the marriage, even though it should be the issue. The problem is where she’s come from. Autumn came out of this terrible situation. She’s lost her child. She doesn’t really know what she needs and what she wants. But here’s this man that she can lean on a little bit. I think, at first, that’s all it is. Moving forward, I don’t know. But I think it’s a safe space for her. I don’t think if they did get together they would last, to be honest, this early on. I think they need a bit more time. But like I said, they are soulmates. There’s something special.

Elarica Johnson
Autumn and Andre in ‘P-Valley’ season 2. (STARZ)

Autumn has gone through so much trauma in her life. Do you think she’s at a point where she thinks she deserves to be happy? Do you think she’s still struggling with that? 
Elarica Johnson: I think she’s still struggling. I definitely feel like there’s a punishment element. She pushes people away, especially this season. These people that she was forming really nice relationships with, it’s almost like the goal is to get the money and to move forward. It’s all because of her child. I promised my child I was going to move forward. I was going to do the very best. I was going to get the money. I was going to start a new life, so this is the opportunity to do it, and if I have to step on people, then so be it. I think that is a punishment element. It’s sad because she deserves it. She deserves happiness for sure, but it’s just navigating where she can have it and how. I think finally when she realizes that money isn’t going to solve everything and that actually in order to live and to do what she promised for her daughter, she needs to be happy again.

P Valley has some of the most intense scenes that keep me on the edge of my seat. It’s not even straightforward action. It’s person-to-person intensity. 
Elarica Johnson: Honestly, that’s what I love Katori’s writing. She puts all the elements in there. You have the drama, you have the comedy, you have the thriller side of things, you have the horror. It excites me because those are all places that I want to live in my career. Like, the horror side of things. Let’s scare everybody. Let’s do something that scares me a little bit. And then there’s the thrill of finding things out and the in-depth relationships that feel a bit edgy and a bit slightly weird. And then of course, the comedy side of things. I’m not a comedy girl I love watching it. I just love that we have all those elements in the show.

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