Actress, activist and writer Erika Alexander has been in Hollywood since she was a teenager, racking up acting credits including her most memorable — as the career-driven and sassy lawyer, Maxine Shaw, on “Living Single.”
She recently starred in the Oscar-winning film “Get Out.”
Now she’s building a reputation for disrupting Hollywood as a tech and content entrepreneur. In 2017, Alexander launched Color Farm Media with former Google executive Ben Arnon, whom she met while campaigning for Hillary Clinton.
Color Farm is a multi-platform content company and venture studio that develops and produces content to promote diversity in the media landscape. The company is working on film, TV and digital projects from diverse creators. Alexander wants Color Farm to be the “Motown for film, TV and tech,” meaning she plans to disrupt the industry and make it more inclusive.
One of the company’s latest moves is using the blockchain to make journalism more diverse.
Color Farm has teamed up with Civil, the blockchain-based journalism platform, and plans to create a newsroom called “The Blackness.” The goal, Alexander tweeted, is to feature “longform investigative journalism from marginalized communities.”
The Blackness will be like “Vice” for marginalized communities, Alexander said. For content, The Blackness will connect with HBCUs and various journalistic organizations such as the National Association for Black Journalists. When The Blackness cryptocurrency goes live, both Alexander and Arnon will be token holders, Fast Company reported.
Alexander recently announced a new Color Farm initiative — Keep It Colorful — a national crowdfunding rally and multi-city educational tour. Alexander has the goal of getting at least 50 digital-series pilot episodes from creators of color funded in 2018.
Keep It Colorful has already reached creators of color on the ground in six cities — Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, Compton, Philly, and Raleigh. Progress has been made: In Compton, Color Farm partnered with Mayor Aja Brown and brought a free educational workshop to a crowd of 600-plus Black and brown creators. In Atlanta, Color Farm met with 1,000-plus creators of color and was supported by such notables as Stacey Abrams, Kim Fields, Paul Garnes (Ava Duvernay’s producing partner), and others.
Moguldom spoke with Alexander about Color Farm, tech, politics, and more.
Moguldom: Why did you launch the Keep It Colorful initiative?
Erika Alexander: Keep It Colorful is a pipeline. We have a lot of creatives out here, but they need to be in spaces where they can get work and be seen. We all have the same mission to tackle diversity and the pipeline problem.
Moguldom: Why is it still necessary?
Erick Alexander: Because there is a lack of communication between those who have opportunities to offer and those who create. We want to open up the dialog.
Moguldom: Part of the initiative is mentorship. Why is this important?
Erick Alexander: Having a mentor is everything. There are so many ways for creatives of color to fall through the cracks, but if they have someone who is already established helping to mentor them this is a major plus.
Moguldom: Diversity is not only a problem in the tech sector, but also in Hollywood. Do you feel Hollywood is becoming more inclusive?
Erika Alexander: There’s a lot more to do than making the Oscars more diverse. We need diversity in the executive ranks, diversity when it comes to agents and managers. There is so much more to be done. Still, if you are a Black actor they want to only send you out for “Black” shows. We can act on any show. And for Black writers, they want you to only write for “Black” shows. Black workers have the capability of writing for any show.
Moguldom: What’s next for Color Farm?
Erika Alexander: I did a film with Helen Hunt called “I See You.” Through Color Farm I am also developing and writing a horror thriller for Lionsgate Entertainment. We are also working on the Boys Choir of Harlem film.
Moguldom: TV is loaded with reboots now. Any change of a “Living Single” reboot?
Erika Alexander: As much as I would love to spend all day with my friends doing something I love, I think one has to move on from the past in order to keep a forward momentum.
Moguldom: Do you see change coming?
Erika Alexander: I think our lives are at stake. It is up to us to take the dreamscape back and tell our stories. So far, our stories have been told from the white male perspective — in the arts, in politics. It’s time to stop letting one section be heard. We all have to be heard.
Moguldom: How do we bring about this change?
Erika Alexander: We need to use our soft power and tell our life through our stories. We have the tools, we have the talent, we have the passion. We just have to be heard.