actor in 1966 when Douglas Turner Ward, co-founder of the New York-based Negro Ensemble Company, brought a touring group to Chicago to perform plays including Days of Absence and Happy Endings.
“Equity required the group to use one local actor, and I was hired to do a couple of roles and the laundry,” she said in 1979. “I loved it. I really loved it, and I didn’t mind doing the washing and ironing twice a week.”
Alice came to New York in 1967 and studied with Lloyd Richards — he had directed the original 1959 Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun and would guide her in Fences — before appearing onstage for the Negro Ensemble Company and Wynn Handman‘s American Place Theater.
In 1974, Alice starred in a PBS adaptation of Philip Hayes Dean’s The Sty of the Blind Pig, directed by Ivan Dixon, and made her film debut in The Education of Sonny Carson. A year later, she guest-starred on episodes of Police Woman, Good Times and Sanford and Son (as Fred’s sister, Frances, who has just married a white guy).
Alice said she never really considered herself an actor until she worked for producer Joseph Papp and his New York Shakespeare Festival, and she received an Obie Award for her performance as Portia in Julius Caesar in 1979.