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As graceful as she is, Brandee Evans is balancing a lot more than you know.

Before she is Mercedes of the Starz hit series “P-Valley,” she’s a caregiver to her mom, Diana Harrington, who has Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Evans shares the highs and lows of taking care of her mother on her Instagram.

More than anything right now, Evans is balancing what it means to be strong while tapping into a more vulnerable side of herself. She hasn’t always felt she was allowed to do so.

“At one point it was just like, I’m not allowed to break,” she said during a phone interview. “So I would just take it all on. Having more time with my mom and being a caregiver longer, I know it’s OK to break, but I hear my grandmother in my ear saying, “Get back up now. It’s OK to break, but get back up because those diamonds got to press on.”

She and Mercedes have that in common. The Memphis, Tennessee, native has a background in dance. She really leaned into her skills as an outlet after the stillbirth of her daughter, Lyric. Around that time, her ex-husband had also been deployed, and she had been fired from her dance coaching job. For her sanity’s sake, she took a trip to Los Angeles to take dance classes.

That led to her auditioning and landing a dancing gig on a Lil Wayne tour and quitting her job as an English teacher. She’s landed roles dancing at major award shows, including the Grammys and the BET Awards. She then took Tasha Smith’s acting classes, which paved the way for her to book roles in “Beyond the Lights,” “Games People Play” and “The Bobby Brown Story.”

When she got the call for “P-Valley,” Evans was struck by the similarities she shared with the no-nonsense pole dancer who’s just trying to get her skrilla to secure a better life. Like Mercedes, Evans had a strained relationship with her mom and was a preacher’s kid through her dad. She tapped into some of the traumas that she’s healed from to give her character life.

Written by: Taryn Finley

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