May 05, 2022

By Devyn Bakewell

Assistant Managing Editor


Erika Nicole Malone is a woman who wears many hats. From writer to director to actress to producer, she continues to use her skills to set a powerful example for women of color through her accomplishments and work in the entertainment industry.

On April 19, Malone, along with her cast and team, celebrated the premier of her original biopic, “Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story” at the Pan African Film Festival. A movie starring R&B star Ledisi that tells the story of one of the most iconic gospel artists in the world.

In an interview with LAWT, Malone explained that she was called to write this story because of her upbringing.

“I grew up in the South where Mahalia Jackson was such a national treasure,” said Malone. “I always tell people ‘you’ll see a picture of Dr. King, you’ll see a picture of Jesus, and then on the other side, you see Mahalia Jackson.’ That’s how I grew up.”

Malone had a budding curiosity of Mahalia Jackson’s pivotal role within the Black community. “Especially to Black women,” she shared. “[I wanted] to understand her role in the civil rights movement, and her influence on Dr. King, where she opened up for many of his rallies. Even at the height of her career, she understands the importance of using [her] platform to elevate us.”

Malone continued with quoting the biblical scripture, “to [whom] much is given is required,” which she believes Mahalia Jackson understood fully.

“She was just an amazing woman. She knew what was required of her, and she balanced that with having this personal life where she suffered abuse and lost her mother very young.”

Jackson was able to use her life experiences and put that into her music, inspiring generations of people. Malone shared that this was something her, the director, Denise Dowse, and R&B star, Ledisi, worked to showcase in Jackson’s character within the movie.

“Working with Ledisi, who was phenomenal as Mahalia Jackson, [was a huge reward]. [She] has this ability to take a character and pull them apart. I was already a huge fan of hers and knew she was an amazing singer,” the producer shared.

“But to know the kind of commitment she has and see how she uses her ability to really connect with the goal was great. I think she even went and visited Mahalia’s grave in New Orleans where Ledisi is also from originally. They have this automatic connection, which just comes to life.” 

“Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story” has a list of incredible actors in the film working beside Ledisi. Columbus Short, Janet Hubert, Keith David, Corbin Bleu, Wendy Raquel Robinson and Keith D. Robinson are only some of the actors that the audience will recognize.


“Being the writer, I have this cadence for how things are going to be said and done,” Malone shared with the LAWT. 

“But the actors/actresses became the characters, going beyond what I ever could imagine.”

She continued, “This is just an excellent film. [I believe] this is some of the best performances we’ve seen in a very long time.”

Malone is a cheerleader for this movie and all who helped make it possible alongside her.

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, she also took the time to reflect on how motherhood has shaped and reflected in her career.

“I’m a cheerleader for everyone, which has to be the mother in me, right?” she said cheerfully. 

“I think [motherhood] has shaped me because there’s nothing more vulnerable than having a child because you want the child to win more than you want you to win.

I’m the producer, but they’re (her children) the executive producers of their lives.”

Malone takes this mentality into her projects. “It’s extended to other people.

I’m very nurturing and want people to win as much as I want to win myself. I don’t think I’d be that kind of person had I not been a mother.”

Malone’s advice for mothers who are looking to follow in her footsteps in following their dreams is that, “It’s never too late.

God is so awesome. We have this tapestry of amazing women in their teens, 20s to 60s, 70s, 80s…it’s never too late to realize who you are.”

As the year continues, Malone shared that she has a lot of projects in the making.

One, she discussed, is a message to women about following their dreams while being mothers.

“I’m constantly writing, and am anticipating executive producing another film,” she shared.

For more updates on this iconic producer, writer, actress, and director, you can go to

Screenings for “Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story” are currently unavailable, however, please continue to check the Los Angeles Sentinel and Los Angeles Watt’s Times for updates about a future release.

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