While she continues to build her legacy as an actor and break boundaries behind the scenes, Living Single actress Erika Alexander is just as excited about the next generation of creatives.
Her latest role, as RZA’s mother Linda Diggs in the forthcoming Hulu series Wu-Tang: An American Saga, allowed her to work hand-in-hand with some of that new talent, including rapper Dave East, making his acting debut as a young Method Man.
“He’s wonderful. He’s fantastic,” she told ESSENCE. “For one thing, he’s gorgeous. But that’s the least of what Dave East is. He’s a spiritual man, and when I say that, I’m not talking about in a religious way.”
“You feel him. When he comes in a room you feel his presence. And he’s very smart and he chooses his words,” Alexander added.
Despite having been in the game for decades, Alexander still goes through the process like any other actor. For An American Saga, that process included being vetted by 11 people before she could be cast as Ms. Diggs, who Alexander described as a stabilizing figure not just to RZA and his siblings, but also to her community at-large.
“The truth is, I did the audition while I was working on something else,” Alexander recalled. “So I did the audition and didn’t think too much of it. Then finally, I came in and they said ‘Erika, we want to apologize for taking so long to cast you, but all 11 [of Ms. Diggs’] children had to OK you. So I didn’t just do an audition: I had to be vetted by their family.”
This same humble and meticulous energy is one of the driving forces behind her company, Color Farm Media, which last year launched a 10-city tour in search of up-and-coming actors and filmmakers to support.
“I feel like to be an artist in this industry is the hardest thing,” she explained. “The first thing I want [up-and-coming creatives] to know is that I’m accessible. I may not have much power at the moment, but sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is let someone know that they’re important enough for you to give your time.”