Actress Erika Alexander portrayed the role of a strong willed lawyer named Maxine Shaw on the FOX sitcom Living Single. She gained prominence after she made her appeared on Living Single for which is garnered positive reviews from critics for the role. She also won several awards for her work in the hit TV series, including two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series.
Alexander had a very interesting career as an actress. Everybody loved her when she was first cast as Cousin Pam on “The Cosby Show” in the ’80s and after that she never had to look back again. But her career isn’t the thing she’s most proud of, her marriage is.
Alexander has quietly had one of black Hollywood’s most enduring marriages. She’s been married to screenwriter Tony Puryear since 1997. Going on twenty years, Puryear is bi-racial and born to a Black father and white mother while growing up in the Bronx, New York. Tony has worked in advertising and made TV commercials. He’s directed Hip Hop videos for old-school artists like EPMD, LL Cool J and K-Solo. As a screenwriter for the last 20-odd years, Tony’s written screenplays for a who’s who of Hollywood’s A-List, from Mel Gibson to Jerry Bruckheimer to Oliver Stone to Will Smith. He became the first African-American screenwriter to write a $100 million+ blockbuster with the 1996 script for “Eraser”, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Erika’s father, Rev. Robert Alexander was an itinerant preacher who moved the family around to several cities before settling in Philadelphia. She was actually born in Arizona, where the family lived at one time. Alexander’s parents were both orphans, but the Alexanders had six children, including Erika. Alexander was discovered first at Philadelphia’s Freedom Theater, and is one of the theater’s most famous graduates. She was the lead in a Merchant Ivory film at 15, and went on to tour with the Royal Shakespeare Company and was then cast in a play by Joseph Papp, who founded New York City’s famed Public Theater.
But the life a fledgling preacher with six children wasn’t always a fruitful one. Because of Alexander’s family’s poverty, she became the family breadwinner as a teenager. “Overnight, I got a career in show business and…
…became the health care provider, mortgage broker and college fund for my entire family. Having those responsibilities made me political,” she says on her Web site.
Both Erika and Tony are creative people and that’s where they merge. They focus on the things that bring them together instead of the things that divide them.
“We’re all about diversity. We’re all about sharing different voices,” says Tony.
“We work well together,” adds Erika. “He’s a talented comic book geek and I’m a comic book fan and it works.” She says when speaking about their award-winning graphic novel collaboration, Concrete Park. Which they both won awards for in 2012.
Work, play and everywhere in between Erika and Tony are dedicated to making the married life work.