IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

‘Living Single’ creator details how the iconic cast came to be

Yvette Lee Bowser reflects on the early days of her hit '90s sitcom in honor of its 30th anniversary.
/ Source: TODAY

The cast of "Living Single" will forever be with their homegirl standing to their left and their right.

“We’re still true blue, tight like glue,” Yvette Lee Bowser, the show's creator, tells, using words included in the theme song.

"It’s not just a title. It’s a spirit. It’s a thing. For us, it’s not just a moment. It’s a movement. It’s an energy that we carry with us as a group, which is really beautiful,” she says. They have a group chat in which they all talk "pretty frequently," she adds.

The movement started 30 years ago when "Living Single" premiered on Fox on Aug. 22, 1993. There are no current plans to publicly mark the milestone anniversary due to the actors and writers strikes, Bowser says.

Beloved for its comedy and candor, it's really the show's cast who made it a must-watch for fans.

"The chemistry of the cast is unrivaled," Bowser says.

The show starred Queen Latifah, Kim Coles, Erika Alexander, TC Carson, John Henton and Kim Fields as Khadijah, Synclaire, Maxine, Kyle, Overton and Regine, respectively. They lived in Brooklyn as working professionals navigating the roller coaster of their careers, friendships and romantic lives. The show is available to stream on Hulu and Max.

Bowser hand-picked the six actors who led the show, and remembers how they ended up in the cast.

First up were Latifah and Coles because they had existing deals with Fox and Warner Bros., the studio behind the show. Bowser says she created the show for them.

"Knowing who I wanted those characters to be, I built the ensemble around them," she explains.

At the time, Latifah and Coles — the latter of whom previously starred on Fox’s sketch comedy series “In Living Color” — were new to narrative storytelling on TV, Bowser says, so her goal was to surround them with veterans who could carry more weight if needed.

To find these veterans, Bowser says she "did something very unusual" and sat in on the pre-reads, when the casting team meets with "thousands of actors" interested in the roles and filters the numbers down to the select group who audition in front of show producers.

"I wanted to learn more about the process and I wanted to really hone my own guts and sensibility about casting," she says. "Some of them were painful ... but it really helped me to not only hear the material over and over again and to see what was really working and what wasn't working, but also to just kind of open my eyes a little wider and expand my mind a little more broadly as to who I would consider in these additional roles."

The breakout star from Bowser's process was Alexander.

"In the auditioning process, she was a revelation to me because of course I had seen her as Cousin Pam on 'The Cosby Show,' but I didn’t think that the character was particularly humorous," she says.

But Max is a funny character, and Alexander showed she could go there during her audition.

With Max in the cast, Bowser was mindful of whom to select as Kyle, she says. Carson turned out to be another diamond in the rough.

“TC Carson was an actor out of Chicago who sent in a tape,” she chuckles. “Yes, a VHS tape, people. I’m talking about a VHS. ... I popped his tape in and watched his audition and I was like, ‘That’s Kyle. That’s Kyle.’”

She said she “could envision him opposite Erika as Maxine. I was like, they are a powerful and magnetic and beautiful couple.”

The two actors didn’t do a chemistry read, the standard these days, Bowser says, but it still worked out.

“I just had to rely on my own instincts about how that would pan out, but Erika and TC share a birthday,” she notes. “They were always supposed to be two sides of the same coin, so it’s very interesting the serendipity that came into play."

From there, it was just a matter of casting Regine and Overton, and Bowser says she already knew of actors who'd fit the roles.

"I did actually meet with Kim Fields, whom I knew from a mutual friendship, and asked her if she would be in the show," Bowser says. "She did have to audition, unfortunately it wasn't an offer, but she was Regine in my mind."

Bowser admired her work as Tootie on "The Facts of Life," in which Fields played a lovable student, and "wanted to do something that was a contrast to the way we'd seen her before."

Henton caught Bowser's eye when he worked on a pilot the previous season for a show that was not picked up.

"I was like, 'That guy's funny,'" she recalls. "Really, really funny and (I) just got an energy about him that was just lovable. ... I didn't know if he could really act. But he could and I found that out during the casting process."

Altogether, the six led a show that is still relevant 30 years later, as evidenced by clips of the show that are regularly posted by fans to social media.

"Cultural impact is at the forefront of what comes to mind," Bowser says when asked what she thinks the legacy of "Living Single" is.

"We didn't just set out to make a TV show," she adds. "We set out to make a universally entertaining but culturally specific experience. And I think we achieved that."