S Epatha Merkerson

Actor, Singer
As an acclaimed performer with gritty but approachable style, actress S. Epatha Merkerson began her career on the stage both on and off-Broadway before moving to television, where she played the longest-running ... Read more »
Born: 11/27/1952 in Saginaw, Michigan, USA

Filmography

Actor (58)

Being Mary Jane 2015 (Tv Show)

Actor

Sexual Healing 2014 (Movie)

Alberta (Actor)

The Gabby Douglas Story 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Actor

The Six Wives of Henry Lefay 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

Deception 2013 (Tv Show)

Actor

Peeples 2013 (Movie)

Daphne Peeples (Actor)

Art in the Twenty-First Century 2001 - 2012 (TV Show)

Actor

Drop Dead Diva 2012 (Tv Show)

Actor

Lincoln 2012 (Movie)

Lydia Smith (Actor)

Rocco's Dinner Party 2011 (Tv Show)

Actor

Law & Order 1990 - 1991, 1993 - 2010 (Tv Show)

Actor

Mother and Child 2010 (Movie)

Ada (Actor)

The 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards 2008 - 2009 (TV Show)

Actor

Battlestar Galactica: The Phenomenon 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

Black Snake Moan 2007 (Movie)

Angela (Actor)

Comic Relief 2006 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

Girl, Positive 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

Slipstream 2007 (Movie)

Bonnie (Actor)

The 2nd Annual Quill Awards 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

The 38th Annual NAACP Image Awards 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

The Closer 2007 (Tv Show)

Actor

Inside the Actors Studio 2006 (Tv Show)

Interviewee

The 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

Law & Order: Trial by Jury 2005 (Tv Show)

Actor

Jersey Girl 2004 (Movie)

Doctor #1 (Actor)

TV Land Moguls 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

Radio 2003 (Movie)

Maggie (Actor)

Law & Order: Criminal Intent 2002 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Rising Place 2002 (Movie)

Leslie--Wilma's Mother (Actor)

Frasier 2000 (Tv Show)

Actor

Random Hearts 1999 (Movie)

Nea (Actor)

An Unexpected Life 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Here and Now 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

South Beach 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Mann & Machine 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Moe's World 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Summer Stories: The Mall 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Pee-wee's Playhouse 1986 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991 (Movie)

Tarissa Dyson (Actor)

Jacob's Ladder 1990 (Movie)

Elsa (Actor)

Loose Cannons 1990 (Movie)

Rachel (Actor)

Navy Seals 1990 (Movie)

Jolena (Actor)

Elysian Fields 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

A Special Evening of Pee-wee's Playhouse 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

The Cosby Show 1988 (Tv Show)

Actor

She's Gotta Have It 1986 (Movie)

Dr Jamison (Actor)

A Girl Thing (TV Show)

Actor

A Mother's Prayer (TV Show)

Actor

A Place For Annie (TV Show)

Actor

Breaking Through (TV Show)

Actor

Girl, Positive (TV Show)

Actor

It's Nothing Personal (TV Show)

Actor

Lackawanna Blues (TV Show)

Actor

Paul Robeson: Here I Stand (TV Show)

Voice

Biography

As an acclaimed performer with gritty but approachable style, actress S. Epatha Merkerson began her career on the stage both on and off-Broadway before moving to television, where she played the longest-running character on the seemingly eternal "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010). Prior to her run on the procedural, Merkerson was perhaps best known for her small, but memorable role as a screaming wife in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991) while continuing her onstage success with an OBIE Award for her performance in "I'm Not Stupid" (1992). But in 1993, Merkerson went from virtual unknown to household regular who, over the next 17 years, was seen portraying the tough, but determined Lt. Anita Van Buren on "Law & Order," a role she reprised in episodes of the spin-off series and a made-for-television movie. She had arguably her greatest critical success with her leading performance as the spirited "Nanny" Crosby in the acclaimed television movie "Lackawanna Blues" (HBO, 2005), a role that won the actress both a Golden Globe and Emmy Award. Because of her longevity on "Law & Order" and the praise received for "Lackawanna Blues," Merkerson emerged as a highly desirable character actress capable of delivering consistent quality performances.

Relationships

Toussaint Jones

Husband
Met in the late 1970s married from 1994-2006

Ann Merkerson

Mother
Separated from Merkerson's father c. 1957 was only female in the vehicles operation unit of the Detroit post office at the time

EDUCATION

Thomas M. Cooley High School

Detroit , Michigan 1970

Wayne State University

Detroit , Michigan 1976

Milestones

2007

Returned to the stage as the aging, disillusioned Lola of William Inge's "Come Back, Little Sheba"; earned a Tony award nomination for Best Actress in a Play

2007

Cast opposite Samuel L. Jackson in "Black Snake Moan"

2005

Won an Emmy for her role as Nanny, the owner of a boarding house in Lackawanna, New York in the HBO original movie "Lackawanna Blues"; also earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress

1993

Made debut as a series regular on NBC's police and courtroom drama, "Law & Order" as Lt. Anita Van Buren; left the series at the end of the 2009-2010 season

1993

First TV-movie, "It's Nothing Personal"

1992

Returned to the Off-Broadway stage in "I'm Not Stupid"

1990

Acted the leading role of Berniece in out-of-town tryouts, on tour and on Broadway in director Lloyd Richards's staging of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, "The Piano Lesson"; nominated for a Tony Award

1989

Made feature film debut in a small role in "Loose Cannons"

1987

Acted Off-Off-Broadway at the Hudson Guild Theater in the play, "Moms"

1987

Replaced Lonette McKee in the role of Billie Holliday in the Off-Broadway biographical musical drama, "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill"

1986

Cast in first TV role, as Reba, "the mail lady" on the children's comedy and variety series, "Pee-wee's Playhouse"

1984

Appeared at the famed Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam (Connecticut) to play a prominent role in a staging of the musical, "The Dream Team"

1978

Had featured role in the national tour of "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf..."

1976

Moved to NYC to pursue acting career

Reprised the role of Reba from "Pee-wee's Playhouse" on several primetime CBS specials

Raised in Detroit, Michigan

Worked in children's theater in Albany, New York after graduating from college

Bonus Trivia

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The actress will not reveal what the "S" in her name stands for. Her middle name is pronounced e-PAY-tha.

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"I'm sooo... not Van Buren. I like to argue. I have respect for Van Buren. She reminds me of my mother. These are women who choose a profession that is basically white-male oriented but keep a sense of who they are and always demand and get respect." - Merkerson quoted in Parade, July 16, 2000

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"There's still a little anonymity that comes with being a woman in your 50s and getting recognition at this age." - Merkerson to the The Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2007

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