Erica Faye Watson
Erica Faye Watson died on February 27, 2021, at the age of 48, from complications due to Covid-19, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where she was working on a writing project. Watson was a local Chicagoland celebrity, best known as a regular on “Windy City Live,” Chicago’s morning talk show. She also performed stand-up comedy, wrote and directed plays and acted in movies.
Watson was born on Feb. 26, 1973, in Chicago, to Henry and Willie Mae Watson. Her father was a postal worker, her mother a homemaker. Watson attended the U of I - Urbana-Champaign, where she was prominent in its Black arts scene. “If there was something involving the Black community on campus, Erica was going to be a part of it,” said John Jennings, a professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside. Watson later transferred to Columbia College Chicago, from which she graduated in 1998 with a degree in film directing. She received a Master’s in arts, entertainment and media management from Columbia in 2005.
After working as a writer and director for several years, she took up comedy in 2006, soon after moving to New York. In 2010, she presented the one-woman show, “Fat Bitch,” at the Laurie Beechman Theater in Manhattan’s theater district, which explored issues of race and body image through the eyes of a plus-size Black woman (which she unabashedly was). Watson was featured in a campaign for Avenue, a clothing brand aimed at plus-size women, and in 2018 she launched her own line of beauty products, Fierce, which targeted the same demographic. After taking her show on tour, she returned to Chicago and joined “Windy City Live” as a regular contributor and made frequent appearances on other local TV shows and the cable channels BET and Oxygen. She also won small roles with directors like Lee Daniels, in “Precious,” and Spike Lee, in “Chi-Raq,” and secured parts on Chicago TV dramas, “Empire” and “The Chi.”
In 2016, (now) Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx booked the local comedian and television personality to perform at her daytime campaign fundraiser, and Watson roasted her host with an extended riff about Ms. Foxx’s hair … and how proud she was to have a Black woman as the county’s chief prosecutor, which launched their close friendship. “Erica was a hidden gem of Chicago and a voice for overlooked businesses and causes,” said Patti Gill, her former agent, who in 2017 cast her in “BlacKorea,” a short film she wrote.
Her survivors include her parents and her brother, Eric