S. Epatha Merkerson
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.