Underappreciated Actress of Color #50: Erika Alexander

Needless to say, this one's been loooooong overdue.

Born in 1969 to a reverend and a children's author, multi-award-winning actress Erika Alexander is best known for her role of Maxine Shaw on Living Single (which has yet to release more seasons on DVD, damn it).  Of all the women on the show, the lil sis considers her to be the most beautiful, and I whole-heartedly concur.

To those who are unfamiliar with her beyond her role as Maxine, her big break was actually on The Cosby Show, and though she may not be as popular as she once was, she has stayed busy since Living Single, with her most recent work being a guest role on House.

The thing I loved most about her portrayal of Maxine Shaw was her ability to incorporate grace, beauty, and femininity into her comedic role.  I also appreciated the fact that she was a successful lawyer with a classy wardrobe.


They just don't make them like her anymore, you know?


  1. I love Maxine! She's the only woman who could knock Kyle's bloated ego down a few pegs. *happy sigh*

    You're right on both counts: Erika Alexander is grossly under-appreciated, and finding WOC characters like Maxine Shaw (especially BW characters) these days is like searching for miniature diamonds in a tub of broken glass.

  2. Where has she been! It is sad that the 80-90s media were more diverse than what we have now. Even Angela Basset is having trouble finding work these days.

  3. Where has she been!

    Mostly TV spots, unfortunately.

  4. I always liked Erika Alexander becuz her skin is gorgeous and becuz as Maxine she owned her sexuality and she is the perfect combination of a dominant female and graceful, something that you could tell was how she is as a person rather than just portraying a character. Her and Kyle were just the most hottest couple ever!

  5. So glad you featured her!!

    Every time I see her on the screen I get so happy! Living Single was such a great show and the dynamics between Max and Kyle always broke me tears from laughing so hard.

  6. Who wants to ride the maverick?! XD

    I loved me some Maxine!! Max and Kyle and Sinclair and Obbie were my favorite TV couples growing up. Living Single was the shit!

    Erika Alexander is a sexy woman. Very talented. She and Debra Wilson are among my two favorite actresses and comedians.

  7. I love this flawless, gorgeous queen!

    I wanted to check out "La Mission" just because of her. Also because the setting is in the SF Bay Area, but mostly I want to see it for her.

    She needs to get more work. Casting directors who are sleeping on her fabulousness need to sit down and rethink their sad lives.

  8. Would you believe it if I told you that my husband seriously shipped Maxine and Kyle? I bought him the first DVD of Living Single for Christmas. We almost went blind watching "just one more episode." Curiously, Maxine was the first Black woman he'd ever been exposed to for any measurable length of time. Who says STRONG CONFIDENT Black women scare non-Black men away? Do you remember that time-travel-like movie with Denzel Washington and Paula Patterson? Erika was in it for all of six minutes, yet that's the only part of it movie I remember. My creative muse spent about a week writing a backstory for her character.

    We need to fund a movie and put this Empress in it!

  9. I love Erika Alexander, and I love her character Maxine on Living Single. That woman made me laugh my ass off while giving off that sexy vibe in her power and assertiveness.

  10. Maxine! Maxine! Living Single was my show (my age is creeping up on me y'all). I loved those women so much. They were relateable, smart, funny and the 1st season was rockin.'

    I miss the diversity of options the 90's presented to us. Erika is a true gem.

  11. I miss the diversity of options the 90's presented to us.

    As do I. This show wiped the floor with Sex and the City.

    Maxine's mouth was razor sharp, I loved every single deadly syllable. *taps chest* My girl.

  12. we are living single oooh in a 90's kind of world i'm glad I got my girls...

    I loved that show. I loved how Maxine and Regine used to bicker all the time and how she and Kyle annoyed the hell out of eachother. THAT was my show! I was more like Sinclar as in very goofy.

    She and Kyle had a guest appearence on Half and Half.
    And Overton and Sinclair were on the show One on One as Spirit's parents.

    Damn the 90's and early 00's had some good arse Black tvshows man.

    Without Living Single there wouldn't be Girlfriends

  13. I've been watching "Living Single" again and must agree that Erika is inDEED underrated and definitely underutilized! She's amazing! I would love to see "the movie", Living Single... I would love to know where these characters are in their lives today.


This blog is strictly moderated. Everyone is now able to comment again, however, all Anonymous posts will be immediately deleted. Comments on posts more than 30 days old are generally dismissed, so try to stay current with the conversations.