An American actress who began her career as a dancer on Broadway, Khandi Alexander is most popular for playing the supporting role of Dr. Alexx Wood on the hit series “CSI: Miami” from 2002 to 2009 and Catherine Duke on the fan favorite sitcom “NewsRadio” from 1995 to 1998. She took home a 2005 Image Award for her performance in the first series. Currently, Alexander stars in the HBO series “Treme” (2010-current). Her television credits also include an applauded performance as Fran Boyd in the TV miniseries “The Corner” (HBO, 2000), in which she netted a Black Reel Award, and a recurring role in “ER” (1995-2001, as Jackie Robbins). On the big screen, Alexander has appeared in many films, such as “CB4” (1993), “Menace II Society” (1993), “What's Love Got to Do with It” (1993), “Poetic Justice” (1993), “Greedy” (1994), “There's Something About Mary” (1998), “Emmett's Mark” (2002), “Dark Blue” (2002), “Rain” (2006) and “First Born” (2007). Prior to enjoying success with her acting, Alexander choreographed Whitney Houston for the singer's highly successful “I’m Your Baby Tonight” international tour.
Alexander lives in Los Angeles.
New York Native
Childhood and Family:
Khandi Alexander was born on September 4, 1957, in New York City, New York, to Henry and Alverina Alexander. Her mother died of a heart attack in 1980 at age 41. Khandi attended Queensborough Community College in Bayside, New York.
Khandi Alexander got her start in the show business as a dancer on Broadway. She was then recruited by legendary choreographer Bob Fosse to dance in his national touring company of “Dancin'.” She continued to appear in the chorus of “Dreamgirls” on Broadway and after graduating from Alvin Ailey Conservatory, she worked as a dancer and choreographer for prestigious events like the “American Music Awards” and “Grammy Awards.” She met Whitney Houston at one of these events and the two would embark on a four year long creative partnership. Their collaboration was climaxed in the late 1980s when Alexander served as choreographer for Houston's successful “I’m Your Baby Tonight” international tour.
Alexander's acting career began in the mid 1980s with small parts in such films as the Joan Freeman directed “Streetwalkin'” (1985), where she played a hooker named Star, and “A Chorus Line” (1985), a musical directed by Richard Attenborough that starred Michael Douglas. Two years later, she briefly appeared in “Maid to Order” (1987), a comedy starring Ally Sheedy. She was then featured in the pilot of the Joseph Bologna short lived series “Rags to Riches” and made guest appearances in the Fox sitcom “Duet” (1988) and The NBC series “A Different World” (1989).
In the early 1990s, Alexander checked into a drug rehab program and did not resume her career until 1993. She then portrayed a groupie named Sissy in the Tamra Davis directed comedy film “CB4” (1993), opposite Chris Rock, Allen Payne and Charlie Murphy, Maralena Turner in “Joshua Tree” (1993), an action movie starring Dolph Lundgren, Kristian Alfonso and George Segal, Karen Lawson in “Menace II Society” (1993), the directorial debut of twin brothers Allen and Albert Hughes, and Ikette Darlene in the Tina Turner biopic “What's Love Got to Do with It” (1993), starring Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne. In addition, she worked with Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Regina King and Joe Torry in John Singleton's “Poetic Justice” (1993), Wesley Snipes, Michael Wright and Theresa Randle in the film “Sugar Hill” (1993) and Joanna Kerns, Tim Matheson and LaTanya Richardson in the ABC television movie “Shameful Secrets” (1993). The next year, she had supporting roles in such films as “House Party 3” and “Greedy” and costarred as Harriet in the television film “To My Daughter with Love” (NBC), with Rick Schroder and Lawrence Pressman.
Alexander's huge break arrived when she landed the reoccurring role of news anchor Catherine Duke in the television comedy series “NewsRadio,” opposite Dave Foley, Stephen Root, Andy Dick, Joe Rogan, Maura Tierney, Vicki Lewis, Phil Hartman and Jon Lovitz. She debuted on the show's second episode on March 28, 1995, and would remain until November 25, 1997. Her character was also briefly featured in the fifth season premiere in September 1998. She was then nominated for a 1998 Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Also in 1995, Alexander began her recurring role of Jackie Robbins, the sister of Dr. Benton (played by Eriq La Salle), on the NBC popular medical series “ER.” She stayed with show until December 2001.
Alexander returned to the big screen in 1996 when she was cast as Diana Campbell in the dramatic film “No Easy Way,” which was directed by Jeffrey Fine and written by Patrick Tobin. It was followed by a supporting part in the box office hit “There's Something About Mary” (1998), starring Cameron Diaz. In the meantime, Alexander also costarred with Doug Savant, Nia Peeples and Michael Ironside in the television film “Terminal” (1996) and appeared in an episode of “La Femme Nikita” called “Soul Sacrifice” (1998). She returned to her stage roots in 1998 when she was cast as Velma Kelly in a national touring production of Bob Fosse's “Chicago.”
In 1999, Alexander made guest appearances in such TV series as “Cosby” (as Karen) and “NYPD Blue” (as Sonya). In addition, she starred with Mark Adair-Rios in the film “Thick as Thieves” and as Charlie in the TV film “Partners” (both also 1999). Her voice was then heard in the animated TV series “X-Chromosom,” an episode of the TV series “Spawn,” and in the direct to video animated film “Spawn 3: Ultimate Battle” (both also 1999).
After a guest starring role in “Rude Awakening” (March 2000), Alexander charmed the hearts of audiences and critics with her portrayal of Denise Francine Boyd, a mother addicted to drugs, on the HBO miniseries “The Corner,” which was adapted from the nonfiction book “The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood” by David Simon and Ed Burns. The drama, which ran for six episodes from April 16 to May 21, 2000, won three Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or a Movie. For her good performance, Alexander won a Black Reel for Network/Cable - Best Actress and was nominated for an Image for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special.
Following “The Corner,” Alexander guest starred in “Third Watch” (2000, as Beverly Saunders), “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (2001, as Karen Smythe) and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (2002), in which she introduced her role of medical examiner Alexx Woods. Alexander went on to portray Alexx Woods on the spin-off show “CSI: Miami,” which premiered on CBS on September 23, 2002. She was a regular cast member from the first to sixth season and a recurring cast in the seventh and eight seasons. For her work on the series, Alexander won an Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2005 and was nominated for two additional Image Awards in 2006 and 2007.
While working on “CSI: Miami,” Alexander took on several other acting projects. She starred as Icarus in the film “Fool Proof” (2002), opposite Nur Nur Cummings and Eric Roberts, worked with Scott Wolf, Tim Roth and Gabriel Byrne in “Emmett's Mark” (2002), a movie written and directed by Keith Snyder, and portrayed Janelle Holland, the wife of Ving Rhames, on the Ron Shelton directed film “Dark Blue” (2002), starring Kurt Russell and Scott Speedman. She also played Yolanda in the 2003 television series “Life's a Bitch,” Christie Kaplan in the 2004 TV film “Perfect Strangers,” Latishia Arnold in the 2006 dramatic film “Rain,” starring Brooklyn Sudano, Faye Dunaway and Robert Loggia, and Dierdre in the 2007 film “First Born,” opposite Elisabeth Shue, Steven Mackintosh and Kathleen Chalfant.
After her departure from the series, Alexander guest starred as Stella in an episode of “Better Off Ted” called “Battle of the Bulbs.” She, however, did not return to series television as a regular until she was cast as a bar owner named Ladonna Batiste-Williams in the dramatic series “Treme,” created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer. The show premiered on HBO on April 11, 2010.
Recently, in 2011, Alexander was nominated for NAMIC Vision Award in the category of Best Performance - Drama for her performance in “Treme.”
Image: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, “CSI: Miami,” 2005
Black Reel: Network/Cable - Best Actress, “The Corner,” 2001