J. Alphonse Nicholson is one of the break-out actors from Starz’s groundbreaking series P-Valley. The multitalented Greensboro, NC native continues to score rave reviews for his portrayal of down-low rapper Lil Murda. His dynamic and nuanced performance enthralls fans, and people continue to question how the actor, who is straight and married to a woman, can pull the inspiration for such a unique role. Furthermore, Nicholson has engaged in some very steamy scenes with his on-screen counterparts. While fans eat it up online, many want to know how his wife handles watching her husband and Uncle Clifford’s relationship on television.
J. Alphonse has always been very clear on the importance of playing Lil Murda. Early on, he expressed how he felt the character could help men of color living in the closet find some healing in representation. Alphonse says that he knew many men, some in his own family, who were living secret lives and hiding their sexuality. He describes Lil Murda as the “everyday man” and has conveyed so much gratitude for being able to bring the character to life. J. believes that Lil Murda is a beacon of hope for anyone hoping to live in their truth, not just people dealing with sexuality. “I told this story for them, for my brothers and sisters and everyone in between who struggle with being themselves.”
While discussing the role on the Tamron Hall Show, J. choked up and got visibly emotional, trying to explain how passionate he is about the show and character. “It’s such an honor to bring such a complex story to the table and to be a representation for any and everyone,” he told Hall. J. also said how empowered he feels to be able to help creator Katori Hall bring her world to life and represent for her. “Being able to step into these shoes and bring Katori Hall’s story to light and to represent a Black woman. I’m truly grateful for it.”
Because of how well he plays the role, J. Alphonse Nicholson has had to constantly discuss his sexuality. Social media has criticized him for playing a gay role and have tried to paint him as a gay man in real life. J. has taken this in stride, even considering it a compliment for how well his acting is. Following a graphic sex scene with actor John Clarence Stewart who played Teak, J. took to social media to reflect on people’s very real reactions to a very scripted scene. “As an actor, the ultimate goal is to be as believable as possible. Relax. Precise. Fierce. Although P-Valley is a fictional story, I’m grateful for the real conversations that are being had. Job well done. #PValleyStarz #LILMURDA #steadygrind”
J. Alphonse Nicholson was a stage actor when he met P Valley creator Katori Hall. He has opened up about how he actually had his first same-sex kiss in the theater world before becoming a television star. J. believed the role of Lil Murda chose him, and in prep for such a large audience, aka the television viewers, he decided to cut his teeth on a smaller stage that allowed him to get comfortable kissing a man with not so many eyes. J. credits this decision with helping him prepare for the more graphic and intimate scenes he now does on P Valley.
Supporting him through it all has always been his wife, Nafeesha Nicholson. While the pair just tied the knot in 2020, Nafeesha has been around for some time. They are also parents but very protective of any information around their child. They met in 2015 after J. dropped out of college to pursue acting. She was instrumental in J. gaining the confidence to take on such a role and has supported him the whole way. She was his first call when Lil Murda was offered to him and gave him her full permission to throw everything he had into the role.
During an interview with Black Girl Stuff in August, J. discussed how Nafeesha feels about Lil Murda and all the hype that has come with her husband’s breakthrough role. He commends her for being able to evolve with him as his life has changed. When it comes to his steamy scenes and intimate moments on screen, he says Nafeesha has been very gracious and handles it all well. “I will just say she’s been able to handle it, obviously, better than most,” he told Shadow & Act.