Erika Alexander, Get Out & The Cosby Show Actress // reinvention + representation in film

Erika Alexander is an actress, writer & co-founder of Color Farm Media.

She’s well known for her role as the iconic Maxine Shaw, Attorney-at-Law in the 90s sitcom Living Single. She was a regular in The Cosby Show & appeared in the Oscar-winning movie Get Out (2017).

We recorded this conversation at her home in LA, where she opened up about her full story. From growing up, landing huge roles, to dealing with mental health & why she’s on a mission to bring more diversity to Hollywood.

Erika Alexander Interview Pic With Bilal Zaidi

Recording With Erika Alexander

This is one of my all-time favorites convos. Erika was on fire & we got to capture a truly unique conversation that went beyond the usual PR headlines you’ll hear in TV or radio interviews.

We’ve got to know each other over the last few years. And I’ve been so impressed by what her team at Color Farm Media are doing.

They are creating the stories of tomorrow. The ones we don’t usually see on screen – bringing worlds together & changing a landscape that has been one-dimensional for so long.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did recording it!

Five Things To Listen Out For:

(1) Childhood – her experience growing up as a child actor from the age of 14, her relationship with her parents & how this impacted her throughout her life.
(2) Being the “other” – feeling like an outsider when she first had some success
(3) Importance of Diversity in Film & Media – how Erika is approaching this challenge with Color Farm Media, why it’s important to hire the best people regardless, but find a balance to tell diverse stories and learning from her experiences from Get Out, The Cosby Show & Living Single.
(4) Role of Therapy – how she dealt with depression, navigated lows and the importance of mental health
(5) The Future – hip-hop in Bollywood, collaborations of color, the projects she’s working on with Lionsgate & the importance of long-form conversations

Time Stamps

2:32 – Introduction of Erika
4:45 – Her role on Living Single
8:38 – Erika’s childhood
12:15 – Was Erika always outgoing?
15:36 – The “look at me” gene
18:26 – First time acting
23:12 – Erika’s mom’s influence
25:46 – Becoming famous and losing her family
27:31 – Religion and belief when growing up
30:40 – Early pain struggle & depression
32:40 – Being the “other” in the family
36:45 – Ways to cope with parent pain
41:05 – Therapy and mental health
50:41 – Race and misrepresentation in work
51:52 – Race is an illusion
54:13 – Color Farm Media & it’s mission
57:06 – Ben Arnon help & info
61:17 – Current work
66:25 – Black Lightning
71:53 – Making diversity authentic
77:02 – Importance of diverse writers
82:25 – How to change the industry
85:33 – “I’m a badass at acting”
93:00 – Collaborations of color
95:50 – Hire the best writer, but include all
98:14 – The impact of long-form conversation
101:56 – Looking to the future

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