Actress And Comics Creator Erika Alexander, Flying High In Two Worlds

6 Nov

November 6th, 2014


Actress And Comics Creator Erika Alexander, Flying High In Two Worlds

With new film Elsa & Fred in theaters Nov. 7, and acclaimed graphic novel series Concrete Park, the Living Single star is hitting career highs and seeing double.

Los Angeles, CA – November 6, 2014 –

“So there’s this planet, see…” Actress Erika Alexander, the star of landmark sitcoms The Cosby Show and Living Single, had a very high-class problem. Working on a script of her own on the New Orleans set of her new film Elsa & Fred, she was trying to explain to her three Academy Award-winning co-stars, Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Marcia Gay Harden, that she had co-created and was writing one of the most ground-breaking and acclaimed new graphic novel series of the last several years, the sci-fi epic Concrete Park from Dark Horse Comics.

“Something for you to act in?” they asked, capital-A Actors and SAG lifers all. “No. Something to own,” she replied.

A fixture on stage, screen and television for more than 20 years, Alexander has, for the past two years, been performing a creative high-wire act, shuttling between two demanding jobs, actress and graphic novel creator. Now the hard work is paying off, in critical kudos and new opportunities in both fields.

The chance to work with screen legends Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer, and with Elsa & Fred’s Oscar-nominated Director, Michael Radford (Il Postino)  capped off a year of strong performances in venues as disparate as the edgy and critically-lauded AMC series Low Winter Sun and the hit ABC comedy Last Man Standing with Tim Allen. Critics and festival audiences are already singling her out for her ability to stand toe-to-toe with Elsa & Fred’s veteran scene-stealers. It wasn’t easy, at first.

Alexander says “I’ve been in love with Christopher Plummer my whole life. It took two days for me to get up the courage to look at Christopher Plummer. I think I even proposed to him. Yep. I did. Several times. I’m wearing him down. Shirley loved to give me camera and lighting tips, she also liked to tell me stories about all her leading men. Awesome. Elsa & Fred is a funny love story set in New Orleans, one of the most magical places in the world. It was a passion project for all of us, and Shirley and Christopher make falling in love look easy.”

It was while filming Elsa & Fred that Alexander began finalizing the script for the latest installment of her other passion project, Concrete Park. With the success of its initial 2012-2013 run in the Eisner Award-nominated anthology, Dark Horse Presents, Dark Horse founder and Publisher Mike Richardson had asked Erika and her husband, screenwriter Tony Puryear (Eraser),  who co-writes and draws the series, for more of the sci-fi adventure, a lot more. Richardson’s plan was for a mini-series of comics, beginning in the Fall of 2014, to be collected in a hardcover edition for Spring 2015.

The near simultaneous release of that mini-series, Concrete Park: R-E-S-P-E-C-T and a hardcover collection of the Dark Horse Presents material, Concrete Park: You Send Me, heralded Alexander’s arrival as a new voice on the graphic novel scene. With its multi-ethnic cast of characters and its multi-cultural and gender-bending look and feel, Concrete Park was something different in the world of sci-fi comics. Alexander and Puryear appeared at Comic-Cons from San Diego to New York, the word spread and comics shops reported sell-out business on the new series. Suddenly Alexander’s second career was a real going concern, and significantly, as she told her co-stars, it revolved around a property she owns.

Concrete Park is a creator-owned graphic novel series” says Alexander. “From Mike Mignola’s Hellboy to Frank Miller’s Sin City, Mike Richardson and Dark Horse have been pioneers in publishing great properties owned by their creators. We’re proud to be part of that tradition, and glad that our hard work on Concrete Park, and whatever success it may achieve, belong to us.”

The graphic novel seems to be striking a chord with comics buyers. “I am so gratified by the fan response to Concrete Park” Alexander says. “We thought we had something new to say in science fiction, and that people might enjoy the colorful future we’ve envisioned, but when fans tell us the diversity  of our world sticks with them or inspires them, when college professors tell us they’re teaching it in their writing classes, it’s exciting and humbling all at once.”

Asked how she moves between her two creative worlds, Erika says, “vitamins.” As awards-season buzz about her work in Elsa & Fred grows, and as Concrete Park continues to blaze new trails in comics, it looks like she’ll need them.

About Erika Alexander

Erika Alexander has the kind of life story that only happens in the movies. The child of two orphans, Erika grew up in the mountains of Arizona. Through an amazing series of “discoveries” by a who’s who of film, theater and television she was propelled into a remarkable career.

Famed producers Merchant and Ivory “discovered” her in a basement theater in Philadelphia and cast her as the lead in My Little Girl. “Discovered” again by theater legend Peter Brook for his epic Royal Shakespeare Company production, The Mahabharata. Public Theater founder Joseph Papp “discovered” Erika and cast her in his last play, The Forbidden City. As if this weren’t enough, TV icon Bill Cosby then “discovered” Erika, and created the role of “Cousin Pam” for her on The Cosby Show. Alexander starred for five years as fan favorite “Maxine Shaw”in the hit series Living Single, winning two NAACP awards for Best Actress in a Comedy.

Erika’s recent film work has been equally distinguished. She co- starred opposite Denzel Washington in the late Tony Scott’s Deja Vu. She also starred in director Steven Soderbergh’s independent feature, Full Frontal with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. She appeared opposite the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in Love, Liza and starred with Benjamin Bratt in La Mission

On stage, Erika has starred in six plays at New York’s Public Theater, most recently garnering accolades in The Story opposite Tony-winner Phylicia Rashad. The New York Times called her work “a nervy, spot-on performance.” Another highlight was her appearance in the Public’s Shakespeare in the Park production of The Taming of the Shrew.

Erika was a National Surrogate for Hillary Clinton in her 2008 presidential campaign, and a 2008 William J. Clinton Foundation delegate to Africa. She is an advocate for at-risk youth and for women and girls.

Erika recently recurred on the AMC drama series, Low Winter Sun and she can currently be seen  on the ABC Tim Allen comedy, Last Man Standing. She stars alongside Oscar-winners Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Marcia Gay Harden in Elsa & Fred, directed by Michael Radford.

She is co-creator and co-writer of the critically acclaimed graphic novel Concrete Park, published by Dark Horse Comics.

She is married to Concrete Park co-creator and screenwriter Tony Puryear.

About Elsa & Fred

Elsa & Fred is a 2014 romantic comedy directed by Academy Award-nominee Michael Radford (Il Postino, 1984) and starring Academy Award-winners Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment, The Apartment), Christopher Plummer (The Sound Of Music, The Last Station, The Insider) and Marcia Gay Harden (Miller’s Crossing, Mystic River). It was adapted by Michael Radford and Anna Pavignano and based on the 2005 Argentinian film Elsa y Fred. It was produced by Cuatro Plus Films, Defiant Pictures, Creative Andina, Rio Negro, Riverside Entertainment Group and Media House Capital. It was released by Millennium Entertainment.

Synopsis: Two people who are at the end of the road discover that it’s never too late to love, After losing his wife, Fred feels disturbed, confused and alone, so his daughter helps move him into a small apartment where he meets Elsa. From that moment on, everything changes. Elsa bursts into Fred’s life like a whirlwind, determined to teach him that the time he has left to live – be it more or less – is precious and that he should enjoy it as he pleases.

About Concrete Park

Set in a disturbing near-future, Concrete Park is a gritty science-fiction epic in graphic novel form that deals with issues of race, poverty and exile. The ongoing series was co-created by actress Erika Alexander (Living Single, DejaVu, Elsa & Fred) and her husband, the screenwriter Tony Puryear (Eraser, Fahrenheit 451) and her brother, writer Robert Alexander. It is published by Dark Horse Comics.

Concrete Park first appeared in the Eisner Award-winning Dark Horse Presents, edited by Dark Horse Comics founder and Publisher Mike Richardson, from 2012 to 2013. It was selected as one of The Best American Comics, 2013 and appeared in the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt book of that name.

Concrete Park appears in its own monthly Dark Horse series, Concrete Park: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. A hardcover collection Concrete Park: You Send Me, was published by Dark Horse Books in October, 2014. A second hardcover collection will be published in April 2015.

Concrete Park tells a dark and provocative near-future story that takes place in a turbulent city on a distant, desert planet (think Cairo or Rio in space). Young human exiles from Earth must fight to make a new world there. They are “young, violent and ten billion miles from home”. Amid the struggle to survive this harsh urban environment there is also hope and beauty. Erika Alexander co-writes and Puryear co-writes and draws, inks and colors the book.

Contact: Tony Puryear

Phone: 310-913-1245

Erika Alexander and Academy Award-winner Shirley MacLaine in Elsa & Fred

Erika Alexander and Academy Award-winner Shirley MacLaine in Elsa & Fred

Erika Alexander and Academy Award-winner Christopher Plummer in Elsa & Fred

Erika Alexander and Academy Award-winner Christopher Plummer in Elsa & Fred

Erika Alexander and Academy Award-winner Shirley MacLaine in Elsa & Fred

Erika Alexander and Academy Award-winner Shirley MacLaine in Elsa & Fred

The hardcover Concrete Park Volume 1: You Send Me by Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander

The hardcover Concrete Park Volume 1: You Send Me by Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander


Concrete Park Vol.2 R-E-S-P-E-C-T #1 by Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander

Concrete Park Vol. 2 R-E-S-P-E-C-T #2 by Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander

Concrete Park Vol. 2 R-E-S-P-E-C-T #2 by Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander

Concrete Park Vol. 2 R-E-S-P-E-C-T #3 by Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander

Concrete Park Vol. 2 R-E-S-P-E-C-T #3 by Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander


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