Khandi Alexander

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Khandi Alexander
Khandi Alexander 2014.jpg
Alexander in 2014
Harriet Rene Alexander[1]

(1957-09-04) September 4, 1957 (age 62)
OccupationActress, dancer, choreographer
Years active1985–present

Khandi Alexander (born September 4, 1957) is an American dancer, choreographer, and actress. She began her career as a dancer in the 1980s and was a choreographer for Whitney Houston's world tour from 1988 to 1992.

During the 1990s, Alexander appeared in a number of films, include CB4 (1993), What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), Sugar Hill (1994), and There's Something About Mary (1998). She starred as Catherine Duke in the NBC sitcom NewsRadio from 1995 to 1998. She also had a major recurring role in the NBC medical drama ER (1995-2001) as Jackie Robbins, sister to Dr. Peter Benton. Alexander also received critical acclaim for her leading performance in the HBO miniseries The Corner in 2000.

From 2002 to 2009, Alexander starred as Dr. Alexx Woods in the CBS police procedural series CSI: Miami. From 2010 to 2013 she starred as LaDonna Batiste-Williams in the HBO drama Treme. Later in 2013, she joined the cast of the ABC drama Scandal as Maya Lewis, Olivia Pope's mother, for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination in 2015. Alexander also received a Critics' Choice Television Award nomination for playing Bessie Smith's sister in the 2015 HBO film Bessie.

Early life[edit]

Khandi Alexander was born in Jacksonville, Florida,[1] the daughter of Alverina Yavonna (Masters), an opera and jazz singer, and Henry Roland Alexander, who owned a construction company.[2][3][4] She was raised in Queens, New York,[1] and was educated at Queensborough Community College.[5] She appeared on Broadway, starring in Chicago, Bob Fosse's Dancin, and Dreamgirls.[5] She was a choreographer for Whitney Houston's world tour from 1988–1992, and also appeared as a dancer in Natalie Cole's video for "Pink Cadillac" in 1988.[6]


Alexander in 2013

Alexander began her acting career in the late 1980s. She made her television debut on the 1985 sketch-comedy show FTV.[5] Since the early 1990s, Alexander has concentrated on film and TV, playing supporting roles in several movies, including CB4, Joshua Tree, What's Love Got to Do with It, Poetic Justice, and Sugar Hill.

In 1995, Alexander was cast as Catherine Duke on the NBC comedy series NewsRadio. She stayed with the show until season 4 episode 7, "Catherine Moves On". She made one final appearance as Catherine in the season 5 premiere episode, "Bill Moves On". She played the recurring character of Jackie Robbins in medical drama series ER. Alexander has made a number of guest appearances on other television shows, including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NYPD Blue, Third Watch, Cosby, Better off Ted, La Femme Nikita, and Body of Proof.

In 2000, Alexander won critical acclaim for her performance as Fran Boyd, a mother addicted to drugs in the Emmy Award-winning HBO miniseries The Corner.[6][7][8] She later appeared in the films Emmett's Mark and Dark Blue, and starred opposite Rob Lowe in the Lifetime television movie Perfect Strangers. In 2002 through 2008, she portrayed the character of Alexx Woods, a medical examiner in the CBS police drama CSI: Miami. Alexander left CSI: Miami shortly before the end of the 2007-2008 season. Her final appearance aired on May 5, 2008. On February 2, 2009, she returned to the role of Alexx Woods for a guest appearance in the episode "Smoke Gets In Your CSI's".[9] She returned again as Alexx Woods in guest appearances in the episodes "Out of Time" on September 21, 2009 and "Bad Seed" on October 19, 2009.

In fall 2008, Alexander was cast as a lead character in the HBO drama pilot Treme, that premiered on April 11, 2010.[9] She played a bar owner in a neighborhood of New Orleans affected by Hurricane Katrina. She received critical acclaim for her performance in the show.[10][11] Alexander starred in the award-winning HBO television series by David Simon from 2010 to 2013.[12] The series ended after four seasons.[13] She later was cast in Shonda Rhimes's drama series Scandal as Kerry Washington's character's evil mother.[14][15][16] In 2015, she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her performance.[17]

In 2014, Alexander was cast as older sister of Queen Latifah's title character in the HBO Film Bessie about iconic blues singer Bessie Smith.[18][19] She was nominated for a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie/Miniseries.[20]



Year Film Role Notes
1985 Streetwalkin' Star
1985 A Chorus Line Dancer
1987 Maid to Order Hooker in Jail
1993 CB4 Sissy
1993 Joshua Tree Maralena Turner
1993 Menace II Society Karen Lawson
1993 What's Love Got to Do with It Darlene
1993 Poetic Justice Simone
1994 Sugar Hill Ella Skuggs
1994 House Party 3 Janelle
1994 Greedy Laura Densmore, P.I.
1996 No Easy Way Diana Campbell
1998 There's Something About Mary Joanie
1999 Thick as Thieves Janet
1999 Spawn 3: Ultimate Battle Lakesha / Nurse Voice
2002 Fool Proof Icarus
2002 Emmett's Mark Det. Middlestat
2002 Dark Blue Janelle Holland
2004 Perfect Strangers Christie Kaplan
2006 Rain Latishia Arnold
2007 First Born Dierdre
2013 The-N-word Ms. Greene Short film
2014 The Assault Detective Jodi Miller
2016 A Woman, a Part Leslie
2016 Pushing Dead Dot
2016 Patriots Day[21] Veronica (under the name The Interrogator)
2018 Fahrenheit 451 Toni Morrison


Year Title Role Notes
1985 FTV Various
1987 Rags to Riches The Delights Episode: "Pilot"
1988 Duet Nurse Episode: "Special Delivery"
1989 A Different World Theressa Stone Episode: "Citizen Wayne"
1993 Shameful Secrets Rosalie Television film
1994 To My Daughter with Love Harriet Television film
1995–1998 NewsRadio Catherine Duke Series regular, 58 episodes
1995–2001 ER Jackie Robbins Recurring role, 29 episodes
1996 Terminal Dr. Deborah Levy Television film
1998 La Femme Nikita Terry Episode: "Soul Sacrifice"
1999 Cosby Karen Episode: "The Awful Truth"
1999 NYPD Blue Sonya Episode: "What's Up, Chuck?"
1999 Partners Charlie TV pilot
2000 Rude Awakening Juanita Wilson Episode: "Star 80 Proof"
2000 The Corner Denise Francine 'Fran' Boyd TV miniseries
2000 Third Watch Beverly Saunders Episode: "History"
2001 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Sgt. Karen Smythe Episode: "Paranoia"
2002 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Dr. Alexx Woods Episode: "Cross Jurisdictions"
2002–2009 CSI: Miami Dr. Alexx Woods Series regular, 145 episodes
2009 Better Off Ted Stella Clifton Episode: "Battle of the Bulbs"
2010–2013 Treme LaDonna Batiste-Williams Series regular, 36 episodes
2012 Body of Proof Beverly Travers Episodes: "Occupational Hazards" and "Identity"
2013–2018 Scandal Marie Wallace (AKA Maya Pope) Recurring role, 20 episodes
2015 Bessie Viola Smith Television film
2017 Instinct Monica Hernandez Pilot

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1998 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series NewsRadio Nominated
2000 Online Film & Television Association Best Actress in a Motion Picture or Miniseries The Corner Nominated
2001 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Actress Won
2002 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Nominated
2003 DVD Exclusive Awards Best Actress Emmett's Mark Nominated
2005 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series CSI: Miami Won
2006 Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
2011 Vision Award Best Performance - Drama Treme Won
2012 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
2013 Nominated
2014 Nominated
Vision Award Best Performance - Drama Nominated
2015 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Scandal Won
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries Bessie Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Scandal Nominated


  1. ^ a b c Jr, Henry Louis Gates (2016-01-28). Finding Your Roots, Season 2: The Official Companion to the PBS Series. ISBN 9781469626192.
  2. ^ "Khandi Alexander Biography (1957-)". Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  3. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, PBS, October 14, 2014
  4. ^ "Khandi Alexander's Interactive Family Tree - Finding Your Roots - PBS". Finding Your Roots. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Khandi Alexander Biography". Retrieved 2013-12-18.
  6. ^ a b "Khandi Alexander". Yahoo Movies. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  7. ^ Fretts, Bruce (2000-12-22). "Khandi Alexander". Retrieved 2013-12-18.
  8. ^ Als, Hilton. "The Talk of the Town: The Small Screen Making "The Corner" Real". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2013-12-18.
  9. ^ a b "Exclusive: Khandi Alexander Pays CSI: Miami a Visit - Today's News: Our Take". 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2013-12-18.
  10. ^ "Cheers & Jeers: Treme's Khandi (Alexander) is Dandy - Today's News: Our Take". 2011-07-05. Retrieved 2013-12-18.
  11. ^ "'Treme': Khandi Alexander, as LaDonna Batiste-Williams, has no time for your problems -". 2010-04-25. Retrieved 2013-12-18.
  12. ^ Michael O'Connell, Khandi Alexander on the End of 'Treme' and Rebuilding LaDonna, The Hollywood Reporter, September 23, 2012
  13. ^ "'Treme' Season 4: Final episodes bring hope and struggle to New Orleans - Zap2it". Archived from the original on 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2013-11-06. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  14. ^ "'Scandal' Casts 'Treme' Star to Play Olivia's Mother (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 2011-11-17. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
  15. ^ "Khandi Alexander Will Play Olivia Pope's Mother On 'Scandal' | Shadow and Act". Retrieved 2013-11-06.
  16. ^ Slezak, Michael. "Scandal Season 3: Khandi Alexander Cast as Olivia's Mother — Is She Alive?". TVLine. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
  17. ^ Variety Staff. "Emmy Award Nominations 2015 – Full List: 67th Primetime Emmy Nominees - Variety". Variety. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  18. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (1970-01-01). "Mo'Nique & Khandi Alexander Join HBO Films' Bessie Smith Biopic". Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  19. ^ "Mo'Nique & Khandi Alexander Join Queen Latifah In Bessie Smith Biopic|Shadow and Act". Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  20. ^ Erik Pedersen. "Critics' Choice Television Awards Nominations 2015". Deadline. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  21. ^ Erik Pedersen. "'Supergirl's Melissa Benoist Joins 'Patriots Day' As Wife Boston Marathon Bomber - Deadline". Deadline. Retrieved 6 May 2016.

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