The early 1990s saw the debut of a sitcom focusing on six twenty-somethings dealing with the common struggles of life, love, and their careers as they reside in New York City and, no, I am not talking about Friends. I am actually talking about Living Single - the smash hit comedy that premiered on Fox in 1993, and which solidified rap artist and future Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah as a prominent acting talent and also reignited former The Facts of Life star Kim Fields’ reputation as sitcom royalty. Since its sudden cancellation in 1998, the Living Single cast has gone on to lead some impressive careers, which we will take a deeper look at here, starting with “hip-hop’s First Lady.”
Queen Latifah (Khadijah James)
Born Dana Elaine Owens in New Jersey in 1970, Queen Latifah’s groundbreaking emergence into the rap music scene in the late 1980s paved the way for her to be cast on Living Single, which would lead to a very successful movie career, including her Oscar-nominated role in Chicago from 2002. The actress recently returned to television in CBS’ reboot of The Equalizer (not to be confused with Antoine Fuqua’s two cinematic adaptations with Denzel Washington) which she also produces - a position she also took for Lifetime’s Salt-N-Pepa biopic, which aired in January 2021.
Queen Latifah has many projects in progress in both the acting and producing departments (such as the upcoming film adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s book The Tiger Rising). And, according to her former record producer Dante Ross, she still makes music, but whether or not it will see the light of day is uncertain.
Kim Coles (Synclaire James-Jones)
Comedian Kim Coles played various small roles on the legendary sketch comedy series In Living Color and appeared on an episode of Martin Lawrence’s hit sitcom Martin, as Sheneneh’s friend Bonquisha, before playing Queen Latifah’s onscreen cousin, Synclaire James in the Living Single cast. Among her most notable TV appearances following the show’s end was a series regular spot on Geena Davis’ short-lived sitcom, The Geena Davis Show, in 2000, hosting the BET original game show Pay It Off for one season in 2009, and showing up on various reality TV shows, including VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2010. Coles most recently had a role on the Season 2 premiere of the Emmy-nominated HBO original comedy A Black Lady Sketch Show, on which her good friend, former Community star Yvette Nicole Brown, also had a role.
John Henton (Overton "Obie" Wakefield Jones)
Kim Coles’ character would be renamed Synclaire James-Jones after marrying Obie, who was played by John Henton - a Cleveland-based comedian whose big break came with a The Tonight Show performance which earned host Johnny Carson’s approval, leading to a second appearance on the show and his own stand-up special on Showtime in 1993.
Following the success of Living Single, the actor’s next taste of sitcom stardom was on star and co-creator D.L. Hughley’s hit The Hughleys, which ran on ABC for its first two seasons before moving to UPN (before it merged with The WB to become The CW) for its final two years. He has not done much acting since, outside of appearances on The Parkers and on Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana as a Randy Jackson doppelgänger, but, according to the Tahoe Daily Tribune, he managed to coast through quarantine pretty well.
Erika Alexander (Maxine "Max" Felice Shaw)
Since playing Max on Living Single (her most famous TV role outside of playing Pam Tucker on the finale two seasons of The Cosby Show), Erika Alexander has gone on to lead a very eclectic career, appearing in some of the most popular hit movies and TV shows in recent memory. She played a detective who does not believe Rod Williams’ (Lil Red Howery) story about Chris Washington’s (Daniel Kaluuya) disappearance in Get Out, and has landed recurring roles on Insecure (an award-nominated HBO original comedy created by and starring Issa Rae) and The CW’s Arrowverse-canon drama, Black Lightning, as a telepathic therapist for meta-humans. Alexander recently produced civil rights documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble, and you will, apparently, be able to see her on The Roku Channel’s series adaptation of 1994’s Swimming with Sharks, which was originally developed for Quibi in 2020.
Terrence "T.C." Carson (Kyle Barker)
On Black Lightning, Erika Alexander would also reunite with T.C. Carson, whose character, Kyle Barker, would later have a child with Max. Carson’s biggest claim to fame after the sitcom ended in 1998 has been his prolific voice acting career, most notably as the original voice of Kratos in the God of War video games, Mace Windu on the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars since 2008, Batman Ra’s Al Ghul in 2016’s Justice League vs. Teen Titans, and even the video game adaptation of Grey’s Anatomy from 2009. The now 62-year-old actor and jazz musician has a number of big screen and small screen projects on the horizon, including The Forgettable Life of Liam White, which is expected to appear as part of the upcoming 2021 movies schedule.
Kim Fields (Regine Hunter)
Playing Regine Hunter on Living Single saw the resurgence of Kim Fields’ sitcom stardom just five years after her stint as Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey on The Facts of Life ended in 1988. That reputation would reignite once more, in 2021, after she joined the Upshaws cast for Netflix, alongside series co-creators and renowned comedians Mike Epps and Wanda Sykes.
Outside of notable guest appearances on fellow Netflix original series Cobra Kai and the aforementioned HBO comedy Insecure, Fields has done, and still does, a lot of work from behind the camera directing such series as Nickelodeon’s Kenan & Kel, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns and House of Payne, and the upcoming Urbanflix TV drama Vicious, which is currently filming.
There was a time, back in 2017, when a reboot of Living Single produced by Queen Latifah was announced. The show never came to fruition, however, and I think the sitcom’s biggest fans would agree that rewatching the original series with the original Living Single cast is good enough. Besides, who could ever replace the talent above?