“American Fiction” Star Erika Alexander Tears Up Thanking Mom at Oscars 2024: 'I Walk in This Space Because of You'

The star of the Oscar-nominated film credited her mom for signing her up for acting classes as a teenager

<p>Mike Coppola/Getty</p> Erika Alexander of

Mike Coppola/Getty

Erika Alexander of 'American Fiction' attends the 96th Annual Academy Awards

Erika Alexander is using Oscar night to pay tribute to her mom.

At the 2024 Oscars on Sunday, March 10, the American Fiction star took a moment to thank the person who made her career possible: her mom, Sammie Alexander.

Speaking to Variety on the Oscars red carpet, Alexander, 54, looked into the camera to address her mom directly. “Hi Mom, it’s Erika. Thank you,” she began, tearing up. “Thanks for the sacrifice, putting me in that acting course, where they found me in a Merchant Ivory film, there like 40 years ago. And spending your last moneys on educating your children.”

“And I want to say this is your victory, and I walk in this space because of you,” Alexander, who has five siblings, said. “And we’re not done yet.”

She added, “Thank you, Ma, love you,” and blew her mom a kiss.

<p>Getty Images</p> Erika Alexander on the 2024 Oscars red carpet.

Getty Images

Erika Alexander on the 2024 Oscars red carpet.

Alexander’s mother enrolled the star in an acting class at age 14, where she was discovered by independent film company Merchant Ivory. Some of Alexander’s earliest roles included the 1986 film My Little Girl and an ABC after–school special.

But her biggest role came in the 1993 sitcom Living Single. Alexander starred as Maxine Shaw in an ensemble cast that also included Queen Latifah, Kim Coles and Kim Fields. The beloved sitcom premiered back in 1993, when Alexander was 24 years old and ran for five seasons.

“I’m very identified with that show," she told PEOPLE in January. “The minute I put on those braids, especially.” The star teased that there had been “a little bit of talk” about doing a reboot of the series as well.

The cast of 'Living Single.' From Left: Queen Latifah, Kim Fields, Erika Alexander and Kim Coles.
The cast of 'Living Single.' From Left: Queen Latifah, Kim Fields, Erika Alexander and Kim Coles.

In American Fiction, Alexander plays Coraline, a lawyer who has a romance with Jeffrey Wright’s Monk. The film is nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture. Reflecting on American Fiction’s awards season success, she told PEOPLE, “I'm 40 years in business, and yet this is my first time to be mentioned in these types of articles.”

“What I'm trying to do, is just not be afraid of it and actually just breathe and take it in,” she said of her attitude toward awards season. “It really is wonderful for people to have you in their thoughts in a way that is in that kind of category.”

She added of the film’s journey, “Every moment matters. I’m taking it in, and being present and in the moment.”

The cast of American Fiction includes Wright, Sterling K. Brown, Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Uggams, and Alexander was particularly thrilled to be working with such a talented cast. “You work a long time to be with people you admire but also admire you, [and] know what you're capable of,” Alexander told PEOPLE. “You come in as a bunch of soloists, but you know how to be an ensemble. And that right there, that's the gift.”

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