Produced on November 28, 1952 in Detroit, Michigan, S. Epatha Merkerson started her performing career with appearances instage productions ofThe Piano Lesson and I am Not Dumb. She finally got the part of Lieutenant Anita Van Buren to the TV crime show Law & Order, on which she’d star for 17 years. In 2005, she was lead performer in the HBO movie Lackawanna Blues, which is why she earned an Emmy as well as a Golden Globe. She’s since appeared in the 2012 movie Lincoln and returned to full time TV work withChicago Med.
Celebrity S. Epatha Merkerson was produced Sharon Epatha Merkerson on November 28, 1952, in Saginaw, Michigan. Merkerson was raised in Detroit, where her dad worked in a factory and her mom was a post office administrator. She initially majored in dance at Wayne State University in Detroit, but when a self-conscious buddy begged Merkerson to follow her to a play course, she found her true passion. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, as well as in 1978 she moved to Nyc to pursue an acting career.
The fledgling performer first worked on the stage, appearing in several Broadway and off Broadway productions. Her portrayal of Berniece in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson earned her a Tony Award nomination for the best actress and a number of other accolades, for example, Drama Desk Award as well as the Helen Hayes Award.
Merkerson’s first major television role came in 1986, when she played Reba the Mail Lady to the now-notorious Pee Wee’s Playhouse. She remained together with the show until 1991, but still keeps in touch with its delightfully preposterous host, Paul Reubens.
On Law & Order, she impersonated a grief stricken mother in the episode “Mushrooms,” in which a botched drug-associated offense maintains the life of her infant and leaves her son paralyzed. In 1993, the producers of Law & Order offered Merkerson a long-term character, slating her to play the tough but shrewd Lieutenant Anita Van Buren.
Merkerson’s part asLieutenantVan Buren brought the performer many private andprofessional challenges during her long run onLaw & Order. The plan raised many significant, though fine, problems about an incredibly qualified black woman working among a white male majority. On several occasions, the show’s writers had her character make improbable errors, but Merkerson consistently fought to keep Van Buren’s integrity as an extremely qualified professional.
Her character was firmly tied into the show’s ending, asLieutenant Van Buren’s battles with cancer are emphasized through the last season. Added TV work with that interval includesHallmark’s A Place for Annie(1994) with Sissy Spacek, as well as the NBC show Mann and Machine, created by Law & Order executive producer Dick Wolf.
Her film credits add a smallish part in 1999’s Random Hearts, a badly received Harrison Ford vehicle, before parts in such mainstream fare as Radio (2003) and Jersey Girl (2004). Returning to television, she starred in HBO’s version ofLackawanna Blues (2005), bringing in a slew of awards that contained an Emmy as well as a Grammy.More lately she played Lydia Smith in the 2012 movie Lincoln. The celebrity stayed active with parts in the TV pictures Boomerang (2013) as well as The Gabby Douglas Narrative (2014), along with on such programs asPeeples, Deceit, The Good Wifeand Drop Dead Diva. She subsequently reunited with Wolf to get a starring role in the medical drama show Chicago Med, which premiered in November 2015.