Erika Alexander Wants to Remake the Entertainment Industry, One Project at a Time

By Sameer Rao Mar 16, 2018

After spending decades in front of the camera, Erika Alexander ("Living Single," "Get Out") entered the production realm with the launch of Color Farm Media in February. The actress and graphic novelist discussed her mission to support creators of color with Shadow and Act yesterday (March 15). 

Alexander—who created iconic characters on "The Cosby Show" and "Living Single"—said that the idea began with her long-term interest in creating opportunities for artists like her. "I always felt, since I started in the business, that there weren’t enough roles for Black people, especially Black women," she said. "At around [age] 18, I started to write, or try to learn how to write, because I thought the quickest way was to be a creator.”

But she wants to cast an even wider net. "At Color Farm, the whole idea is not just to say the word ‘diverse,’" Alexander said. "’Diversity’ means many different voices and perspectives. Black, White, Latino, Asian are a given. But you also have the elderly, the disabled. I’m from Arizona and grew up in a Lutheran Church. We’re looking for those types of people who may not fit in those stereotypical ways.”

Over the course of her nearly 30-year acting career, Alexander honed her writing skills, joining forces with husband Tony Puryear ("Eraser") to create "Concrete Park." The graphic novel series is about human outcasts banished to an extraterrestrial penal colony.

The opportunity to greenlight content, rather than just creating it, arose when she met photojournalist Ben Arnon in 2008. "I’m mostly a creator and an actress, but he knew about being an entrepreneur, he had gone to business school at UCLA and he knew how to be aggressive," she recounted.  

Alexander paired with Arnon to launch Color Farm Media, which already has several projects in development. One is a film about the Boys Choir of Harlem from producer Paul Garnes ("Selma"). Another is the third volume of "Concrete Park." Alexander said that she wants to see proposals for "things like podcasts, plays [and] graphic novels." 

"We’re also looking to science fiction and horror, which we had been, up until recently, [been] excluded from," she added. "But because of ‘Get Out’ and ‘Black Panther,’ we’re really leveraging those voices. Now, [the studios are] looking for Black speculative fiction, Afrofuturism. That’s what Color Farm is. We’re a little more scrappy and less designed to be a part of the typical Hollywood structure."