At the tender age of seven, Kingston, Jamaica native, Debra Ehrhardt, knew her dream was to come to America. By 18, her dream was realized. She studied acting with Katherine Kerr from Playwrights Horizons and Suzanne Esper at the William Esper Studios in New York City. After honing her craft on the east coast she concluded that her tropical blood would never get used to the east coast winters. She threw away the ice scraper and moved west. Los Angeles has been her home base for the past fifteen years. Ehrhardt, with her strong Jamaican accent, found that there were very few roles in theater, film or television that she could play. She was encouraged to change her accent but opted against it. Instead she began writing her own plays based on her life experiences in Jamaica and has been working ever since.
Previous productions include Mango, Mango which received two NAACP Awards and Invisible Chairs, which was produced by David Strasberg at the Marilyn Monroe Theater in West Hollywood and later optioned as a situation comedy by Fox. She received a 2007 Proclamation from the City of New York for Jamaica Farewell – The Play for her “Outstanding Contribution to the Jamaican Community,” and was also a 2007 NYC Fringe festival award-winner.
She is currently touring with her solo show, Jamaica Farewell – The Play and was recently named one of Jamaica’s top ten news makers for 2010. In the Spring of 2011, the prestigious Actor’s Boy Awards in Kingston, Jamaica nominated Ehrhardt for Best Actress and Jamaica Farewell – The Play was also nominated for Best Drama. Jamaica Farewell was the final production in the 2010-11 Subscription season at Garry Marshalls, Falcon theatre in Los Angeles where it was produced in association with Rita Wilson-Hanks who optioned the stage and screen rights, and Ehrhardt was directed by Joel Zwick, director of Big Fat Greek Wedding. A member of the Writer’s Guild of America, Ms. Ehrhardt is currently adapting Jamaica Farewell – The Play for the big screen.