She Played Pam on "The Cosby Show." See Erika Alexander Now at 52.
The actor went on to another hit sitcom and a career behind the camera.
When she was 21 years old, Erika Alexander was cast as Pam Tucker in The Cosby Show, first appearing in the seventh season in 1990 and staying with the show through the 1992 finale. Pam moves in with the Huxtables when her mom heads out to California to take care of a family member, and while it takes her some time to fit in, she eventually becomes another member of the family. While the role is memorable, Alexander soon went on to an even more iconic one, starring from 1993 to 1998 in Living Single as fast-talking, always hungry, and fiercely independent Maxine Shaw. Read on to see what she's been doing since her days with the Huxtables and her years living it up with her single girlfriends.
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She's still a busy actor.
After her two-time NAACP Image Award-winning role on Living Single, Alexander continued acting in both TV and film. Some of her notable television projects include main and recurring roles in Street Time, Judging Amy, Heist, Low Winter Sun, Beyond, Black Lightning and Wu-Tang: An American Saga as well as episodes of ER, Criminal Minds, Grey's Anatomy, Queen Sugar, and Insecure. She currently plays recurring character Barb on the Starz series Run the World, which has been renewed for a second season.
On the big screen, Alexander has appeared in 54, Get Out, and American Refugee, among many other movies. She has two projects on the way: a feature film called Wildflower and a short film titled Abaddon.
With the career she's carved out, Alexander has still been outspoken about the way she feels Black men in Hollywood are given more opportunities than Black women. She noted in a 2019 interview with The Root that she felt typecast after Living Single, comparing her situation to that of Will Smith, who was cast in a myriad of different roles coming off of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
She's also a producer, director, and writer.
Alexander is taking an active role in filling in some of the gaps she sees in the industry by producing and directing her own projects. She's an executive producer of the web series The BFF Chronicles and produced the 2020 documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble. Alexander recently made her directorial debut (alongside co-director Whitney Dow) with another documentary, The Big Payback, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2022 and is set for wider release next year. The film tracks the implementation of a reparations bill for the descendants of enslaved Black people that was passed in Evanston, Illinois.
"The fundamental systems and foundations of America were built to hinder, assault, and torment Black people. I am just one more person, in a long line of Black American citizens, trying to dismantle these systems," Alexander told Women in Hollywood. "I use my skill as a storyteller to help create a compelling conversation, shine the light on the visionaries toiling in it, and energize the movement."
In addition to storytelling through film, Alexander works in other media too. She hosts the podcast Finding Tamika, about a South Carolina woman who went missing in 2004, and she writes comics and graphic novels, including a Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff series called Giles and the sci-fi series Concrete Park, which she's also turned into an NFT project.
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She's an activist.
Alexander is behind multiple initiatives that support Black actors and creators in Hollywood and fight for racial justice. Even her production company, Color Farm Media, shares those goals. "As a creator, I recognize that entertaining stories, when socially conscious and carefully constructed, have the capacity to create impact and meaningful change," she explains on her website. "As co-founder of Color Farm Media, I am on a mission to bring greater equity, inclusion, and diverse representation to both media and electoral politics."
She also co-founded Give Us the Ballot, which supports Black and brown community organizers who are getting out the vote. And she's on the board of the organization One Fair Wage, which advocates on behalf of service workers. In 2020, the actor and filmmaker testified during a congressional hearing on "Diversity in America: The Representation of People of Color in the Media." And Alexander often posts about politics and causes she believes in on her Twitter page.
She thinks Friends was a Living Single knock-off.
In 2020, David Schwimmer said in an interview with The Guardian that he knows his show Friends wasn't very progressive and hasn't stood stood the test of time. He added that any kind of reboot should feature an all-Black or all-Asian cast. Alexander tweeted in response, "Hey @DavidSchwimmer @FriendsTV – r u seriously telling me you've never heard of #LivingSingle? We invented the template! Yr welcome bro. ;)."
She expanded on the topic in an essay for Zora, writing, "What's ironic is that David was speaking to his awareness of White male privilege. What's unfortunate is that he created an interesting example of it while doing so, because the show he was in was not the original, it was a knock-off. So there can never be an all-Black Friends, because Friends was the all-white Living Single.
Many fans have compared the two shows over the years and questioned why Friends comparatively received so much more attention, money, and praise. "[O]ur being marketed to a mostly Black audience signaled to brands that we were less than and would never command a higher evaluation," Alexander wrote. "But that's not just show biz, that's America."