'Reel It Back': Erika Alexander's Iconic Roles, From Maxine Shaw To Cousin Pam

March 5th 2019

Erika Alexander's acting credits stem back to the 1980s. The veteran actress, writer, director, author and co-founder of the multi-platform production company Color Farm Media, may be best known for her roles as Cousin Pam on The Cosby Show and Maxine Shaw on Living Single in the 90s. Now starring on TheCW's Black family superhero show Black Lightning (for which she's nominated for an NAACP Image Award) Alexander stopped by Shadow And Act and watched some of her most iconic roles:

Alexander has long solidified her role in TV canon. Though her Cosby Show character Cousin Pam became the name of a common sitcom trope, ("the introduction of Cousin Pam was a surprise to everybody...I was a bit confused!" Alexander laughed.) it's her role on In Living Single that actually changed lives. In what's being called the Maxine Shaw Effect, Alexander shared that a number of Black women have told her that they went to law school because of her Living Single character (including this author!):

"When I meet [Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate] Stacey Abrams and she says 'Max meant a lot to me,' or Marilyn Mosby who's up in Baltimore who's their city attorney, or Mayor DeBlasio's wife [first lady Chirlane McCray] would say how much it mattered," Alexander said. "So, the images that you see today inspire the thoughts and the dreams...and give fuel to the people tomorrow."

Watch Erika Alexander on Black Lightning and the upcoming Hulu drama Wu-Tang: An American Saga.

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