If you think you haven’t seen Erika Alexander since her days co-starring in the hit 1990s sitcoms “Living Single” and “The Cosby Show,” look again.
This year alone, she brought emotional heft in an arc on the OWN drama “Queen Sugar,” as Hollywood’s fragile secret wife. And earlier, she commanded the screen in a brief, yet pivotal part, in the breakout hit, “Get Out.”
“That role’s done good things for me and bad,” Alexander jokingly told Tasty Clips. “I go through the TSA and they give me hell. So It holds me up now on flights. I have to put in an extra 10 minutes to explain things to them.”
She is currently shining as the devout Helen Holbrook in Jody Lambert’s “Brave New Jersey,” a comedic look at a small town’s reaction to Orson Welles‘ legendary 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, which led millions of listeners to believe the U.S. was being invaded by Martians.
“It was one of the best scripts I read that year,” said Alexander of the piece that also features an ensemble of Anna Camp, Heather Burns, Tony Hale, Mel Rodriquez and Leonard Earl Howze as her husband. “It’s very hard to find roles that are beautifully done on the page that hadn’t gone out to another star. I haven’t made that cut in a long time, so you’re surprised that a Kerry Washington or Octavia Spencer hadn’t already taken it and that they’re actually looking at other people. I was hoping to do it and glad I got the chance.”
When not acting, Alexander, who’s eyeing a biopic of jazz singer Sarah Vaughan, is busy toiling in other directions. She’s working on volume three of “Concrete Park,” a comic book series illustrated by her husband, Tony Puryear; collaborating with Josh Whedon on a graphic novel spin-off of his “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” series featuring Buffy’s mentor Giles; is co-producing the filming of her screenplay about the Boys Choir of Harlem with Ava DuVernay’s producing partners; developing a “Saturday Night Live” type series called “Blurbs;” and just set up a deal with Lionsgate for a horror/thriller that she wrote.
“If you see me, that means I have a job I’m going to every day,” she said. “But if you don’t see me, I’m hustling like you do. I’m a high school graduate. Everything I do I had to learn on the job. Some people were kind enough to teach me. I read books. That’s the gig and that’s what I’m doing.”
Alexander was also a staunch campaigner for Hillary Clinton. “This is a really ugly time,” she said of the aftermath of the presidential election. “They say you don’t get in life what you need. You get what you deserve. So in some way America must deserve this lunatic. I don’t like to believe it, because I don’t believe black people ever deserve this. I believe white people do, because they have an abscess they don’t want to look at and he’s the personification of all that ugliness.”
She finds the notion that it would take a celebrity to knock off Trump as stupid.
“It wasn’t a celebrity that beat her, it was a rich white man,” Alexander said. “He was their particular brand of Aryan superiority. So to say that Oprah Winfrey with her black self suddenly would get the Michigan voters. You kidding? Suddenly the white women would line up because they like her book club? That’s absurd.
“They didn’t like Hillary with all that she had done,” she continued. “They made her look like the wicked witch of the west. They’d make Oprah a damn beast if she ran.”
As for the controversy surrounding Bill Cosby, Alexander feels that everyone has to make their own determination. “I know I am a person who speaks about women’s rights and for victims’ rights,” she said. “I can’t stand in that space and double talk, but it does get difficult when these are the people that you knew and grew up with and love. Public opinion is not justice but often that’s where we are judged. Everybody deserves their day in court. I also believe some things done in the dark do come to light. It is what it is.”
CLIPPETTES: The “Fast and Furious” franchise is being adapted for live arena shows that Vin Diesel will participate in. The stunt-filled shows will kick-off in the UK this January …
Kim Coles is ambassador of the 11th annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair on Aug. 19 that also features Glynn Turman, Tananarive Due, Kevin Frazier and others at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza …
Bruno Mars surprised the Auburn Hills, Michigan, audience of his sold-out “24K Magic World Tour” by announcing he will donate $1 million from the night’s show to provide aid to the victims of the Flint water crisis …
Jidenna’s Long Live The Chief Tour hits the Roxy on Aug. 19 …
Shonda Rhimes has signed a multi-year pact to exclusively provide programming for Netflix while her ABC shows will continue to air until their conclusions …
Questlove is spinning all things Jackson for the sixth Remember The Time on Aug. 20 at Grand Park. Viktor Duplaix will open with a classic funk/soul set. Also that day, Galore is bringing the first GirlCult festival to the Fonda Theatre with keynote speaker Tyra Banks and performances by Chloe X Halle, Willow Smith, Sevyn Streeter and more …
Visit www.thebarkays.com to enter the legendary R&B group’s nationwide search for a new lead singer to replace the retiring Larry Dodson …
Dave Koz and Larry Graham team to head Smooth Summer Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl with Kenny Lattimore, Valerie Simpson, The Ohio Players, Morgan James and EPK with Euge Groove, Peter White & Keiko Matsui on Aug. 20. The venue will also host Herbie Hancock and Kamasi Washington on Aug. 23 …
The Pantone Color Institute has created Love Symbol #2, a distinctive new shade of purple in memory of Prince.
TASTY QUIP: “If I can make one person — or 10 million people — feel a certain type of euphoria in my music, that’s the whole point.” – KENDRICK LAMAR to Rolling Stone
TC ON TV: Aug. 18 – “Marvel’s The Defenders – The Complete First Season” (Netflix): The awaited team-up of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist premieres. Sigourney Weaver, Scott Glenn and Simone Missick reprising her standout Misty Knight character co-star. “Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From The Hood To Hollywood” (Showtime): The breakout star of “Girls Trip” gets a stand-up comedy special.
Aug. 19 – “Cops Beyond The Bust” (Spike): Terry Crews hosts this 1,000th episode with classic clips and live reunions of officers with their memorable perps.
Aug. 22 – “Black Girls Rock 2017” (BET): Taraji P. Henson hosts this ceremony honoring Rep. Maxine Waters, Yara Shahidi, Issa Rae and Roberta Flack. Anthony Hamilton, India.Arie, Tyrese, Ledisi, SZA and Tasha Cobbs Leonard perform. “Oprah’s Master Class” (OWN): Tyler Perry
Aug. 23 – “Hollywood Medium” (E!): Lil Kim “Worst Cooks in America” (Food): Vivica A. Fox and Erik Estrada are among the celebrities competing this season. “Huang’s World” (Viceland): Eddie goes to Peru. “Oprah’s Master Class” (OWN): Lynn Whitfield
TASTY QUIP: “Experience [the Aug. 21st total solar eclipse] emotionally, psychologically, physically. Recognize that, occasionally, things line up in ways that are uncommon or unusual, either in your life experience or for the earth itself.” — Astrophysicist NEIL deGRASSE TYSON at the American Museum of Natural History.
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to email@example.com or via Twitter @tastyclips.