Erika Alexander Chats About New Show
Erika Alexander, the actress we grew to love in the ’90s (as the Huxtables’ Cousin Pam and no-nonsense lawyer Maxine Shaw) is making a dramatic prime-time comeback on AMC’s Low Winter Sun as Detroit officer Louise Cullen (airing Sundays, 10 p.m. ET). She is also getting a lot a buzz, along with her screenwriter husband Tony Puryear and brother Robert, with the success of their multi-cultural sci-fi graphic novel series Concrete Park. Alexander shares what she’s been up to.
JET: Having been a part of 1990s TV pop culture on The Cosby Show and Living Single, how do you feel things have changed over the past 20 years for actors?
Erika Alexander: There was no Internet then. That’s been a phenomenal change for people in show business, especially with crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.
JET: Do you keep in touch with any of your former castmates from Living Single?
EA: Yes. We’re like brothers and sisters. TC Carson, who played Kyle, and I share the same birthday.
JET: Whose idea was it to reprise the Living Single characters Maxine and Kyle for a 2005 episode of the sitcom Half & Half?
EA: Yvette Lee Bowser. She thought it would be interesting to catch up with Max and Kyle… Living Single ended in 1998. It was fun to channel that character again.
JET: Tell me about your new character on the AMC police drama Low Winter Sun.
EA: I play Louise Cullen. She’s a strong detective. Resilient. A true representation of Detroit. The city needs this type of series to show what it is right now. Detroit has a constant stream of creativity.
JET: Which roles do you find more fulfilling, comedy or drama?
EA: Neither. I actually started in drama and I couldn’t get a sitcom to save my life. Bill Cosby created Cousin Pam’s role for me. There’s comedy in drama and drama in comedy. I just call it acting.
JET: Last year you posted a Mad Men script online that you had written for your blog. What led you to create this script?
EA: I am a fan of Mad Men. I’d seen and heard the criticism about the show’s lack of diversity and that there should be more representation. A huge contingency of New Yorkers of all races was helping the civil rights and human rights movements. My father-in-law had worked as a liquor salesman, and traveled all around the country selling to both White- and Black-owned businesses. My husband worked in advertising. They knew that world. Black agencies worked alongside White agencies. What if Don Draper had to go uptown to Harlem? Money talks. I wanted to show that it could be done. I’m glad that it went viral.
Check out the script here.
JET: Tell us about your graphic novel project.
EA: Concrete Park is doing well in the comic book world. Were’ happy that it has been chosen to appear in The Best American Comics 2013 (published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and on sale October 8). Our age demographic is from 13 to 60. Women and men. Different races. I believe our older audience really appreciates the poetry in the storytelling.
Check it out here.