See "NewsRadio" and "ER" Star Khandi Alexander Now at 64
The actor started her show business career as an dancer and choreographer.
Though Khandi Alexander got her start in show business as a dancer—she worked with Bob Fosse, was a member of the original Broadway cast of the musical Dreamgirls, and worked as a choreographer for Whitney Houston—she told The World in 2014 that she always "felt like an actress." She got her big break when she was cast as reporter Catherine Duke on the NBC sitcom NewsRadio in 1994, a role that allowed her to show off her considerable comedic chops. But since leaving that show during its fourth season, she has proven equally adept at drama, including in long stints on ER and CSI: Miami. Keep reading to see where else Alexander's talent has taken her over the years, and what she's doing now, at age 64.
She's still working—and garnering awards attention.
Alexander chose to leave NewsRadio in 1998, fearing being typecast for playing comedic roles. "I knew, in order to open up my career, I had to leave or that's all I would ever be given," she told Reuters in 2010. "I don't like to be pigeonholed; I don't like when people won't see me for something because they don't think I can do it."
During and after her time on that NBC sitcom, she had a recurring role on ER as the sister of Eriq LaSalle's Dr. Benton and appeared in the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries The Corner. Coincidentally enough, after leaving ER in 2001, Alexander's next series regular role was playing medical examiner Dr. Alexx Woods on the CBS police drama CSI: Miami. After six seasons, she left that show to star in HBO's acclaimed series Treme, set in post-Katrina New Orleans, appearing throughout its four-season run.
After Treme ended, Alexander took on a recurring role on the flashy Shonda Rhimes political drama Scandal playing the villainous Maya Pope, mother of Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope. She was nominated for an Emmy for the role in 2015.
Over the years, Alexander has also frequently appeared as a guest star in series including NYPD Blue, Third Watch, Law & Order: SVU, and Better Off Ted. She also voiced a character in the animated Netflix series, Bojack Horseman.
She has also appeared in films.
Though her biggest roles have been on TV, Alexander has also appeared in more than two dozen films over the course of her career. One of her earliest film roles was as a dancer in the 1985 adaptation of the musical A Chorus Line.
Shortly before joining the cast of NewsRadio, she appeared in small roles in the films Menace II Society, What's Love Got to Do With It, Poetic Justice, and House Party 3. She later appeared in the hit 1998 comedy There's Something About Mary, the crooked cop drama Dark Blue, the HBO musical biopic Bessie starring Queen Latifah, and Patriot's Day, based on true events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing.
More recently, she appeared in the 2018 adaptation of Ray Bradbury's acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 playing a freedom fighter who has dedicated her life to protecting the works of the author Toni Morrison (whose name she has taken on as an alias) from being destroyed by an oppressive, fascist government.
"The director [Ramin Bahrani] told me, 'I love you, but if I could have gotten Toni Morrison to play this role, I would have given it to her,' and I said, 'Let's call her right now!'" Alexander told Page Six in 2018. "I would want Toni to have this role so she could be immortalized."
She's done work behind the scenes, too.
Alexander formed her own production company, Kiss the Sky, to bring her self-penned children's book Marlowe's Travels to the screen. Though she signed a deal to develop the film in 2004, it was never produced.
She still hopes Kiss the Sky will help her use her clout to help other creators bring their work to life, however. "I am making a new transition into producing and offering many opportunities that will be fulfilling for talent to express themselves," she told Gloss Magazine in 2016.
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She recently reunited with her NewsRadio boss.
In 2021, Alexander made a guest appearance on the third season of FX's What We Do in the Shadows playing Contessa Carmilla De Mornay, a member of the Vampire Council. The role reunited her with her old boss, Paul Simms, creator of NewsRadio, who serves as the executive producer of the faux-documentary horror comedy.