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S. Epatha Merkerson

A native of Michigan, S. Epatha Merkerson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Wayne State University. In 1978, she moved to New York City to apply her craft on stage. Although best known since 1993 as the smart and shrewd Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on the long-running TV crime drama Law & Order (1990), she has a long list of Broadway ... See full bio »

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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 11 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

Known For


Hide Hide Show Show Actress (55 credits)
 2015 You Can Go (Short) (post-production)
Mrs. Bryant
  Sexual Healing (announced)
Alberta Gay
 2015 Chicago Med (TV Series)
Sharon Goodwin
- Mistaken (2015) ... Sharon Goodwin
- Fallback (2015) ... Sharon Goodwin
- iNO (2015) ... Sharon Goodwin
- Derailed (2015) ... Sharon Goodwin
 2015/I The Challenger
 2015 Being Mary Jane (TV Series)
Mark's Mother
- Freedom (2015) ... Mark's Mother
 2014 The Gabby Douglas Story (TV Movie)
Miss Caroline
 2013 Deception (TV Series)
- I'll Start with the Hillbilly (2013) ... Beverly
- You're the Bad Guy (2013) ... Beverly
- Good Luck with Your Death (2013) ... Beverly
 2013 Boomerang (TV Movie)
 2012 Drop Dead Diva (TV Series)
Judge Hiller
- Lady Parts (2012) ... Judge Hiller
 2009 Great Performances (TV Series)
 1999-2008 American Masters (TV Series documentary)
Narrator / Eslanda Robeson
- Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun (2008) ... Narrator
- Paul Robeson: Here I Stand (1999) ... Eslanda Robeson (voice)
 2007 The Closer (TV Series)
Dr. Rebecca Dioli
- Culture Shock (2007) ... Dr. Rebecca Dioli
- Manhunt (2007) ... Dr. Rebecca Dioli
- Four to Eight (2007) ... Dr. Rebecca Dioli
 2007 Girl, Positive (TV Movie)
Ariel Winters
 2005 Lackawanna Blues (TV Movie)
Rachel "Nanny" Crosby
 2004 Jersey Girl
Doctor #1
 2003 Radio
 2001 The Rising Place
Lessie Watson
 2001 A Girl Thing (TV Movie)
Lani (Co-worker)
 2000 Frasier (TV Series)
Dr. McCaskill
- Dark Side of the Moon (2000) ... Dr. McCaskill
 1999 Random Hearts
 1998 An Unexpected Life (TV Movie)
Beverly Hawkins
 1996 Breaking Through (TV Movie)
 1995 A Mother's Prayer (TV Movie)
 1994 A Place for Annie (TV Movie)
 1993 South Beach (TV Series)
Madam Bouchard
- I Witness (1993) ... Madam Bouchard
 1993 It's Nothing Personal (TV Movie)
Louise Waters
 1992 ABC Afterschool Specials (TV Series)
Ruth Clayton
- Summer Stories: The Mall - Part 2 (1992) ... Ruth Clayton
 1990 Moe's World (TV Movie)
Moe's Mother
 1990/I Jacob's Ladder
 1990 Navy Seals
 1990 Equal Justice (TV Series)
Mrs. Walters
- Pilot (1990) ... Mrs. Walters
 1990 Loose Cannons
 1989 CBS Summer Playhouse (TV Series)
- Elysian Fields (1989) ... Jimmie
 1988 The Cosby Show (TV Series)
- Bookworm (1988) ... Elena
 1986 She's Gotta Have It
Doctor Jamison (as Epatha Merkinson)
Show Show Director (1 credit)
Show Show Producer (1 credit)
Show Show Soundtrack (1 credit)
Show Show Thanks (1 credit)
Show Show Self (47 credits)
Show Show Archive footage (2 credits)

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Personal Details

Other Works:

"Fucking A," new musical; written by Suzan-Lori Parks; music and lyrics by Suzan-Lori Parks; directed by Michael Greif; with Susan Blommaert (portraying Freedom Fund Lady/Scribe/Waiting Woman #2); Bobby Cannavale (portraying The Mayor/Prison Guard); Yasiin Bey (portraying Monster); 'Peter Gerety' (portraying Butcher); 'Jojo ... See more »

Publicity Listings:

5 Articles | 1 Magazine Cover Photo | See more »

Alternate Names:

Epatha Merkerson | Epatha Merkinson


5' 6" (1.68 m)

Did You Know?

Personal Quote:

My dad said he had a teacher named Epatha who was influential in keeping him in school. But my mother said it was an old girlfriend of his. So that's why she stuck in the Sharon Epatha. That's what the "S" stands for. Everyone knows now because some numbskull I went to high school with decided to put it on the Internet. See more »


Along with Jerry Orbach and Annie Parisse, Diane Neal, Milena Govich, and Jeremy Sisto one of at least 6 Law & Order (1990) cast members to play a different character in an episode before joining the cast in a later season. (Michael Imperioli also played multiple roles, but was not a permanent addition to the cast as Det. Falco.). See more »

Star Sign:


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Agnostic? Atheist? tim_d_williamson
Wasn't she on Law + Order NOT as Lt. Van Buren? imamc_scouts2
RACIST TRIVIA?! janelleknd
Golden Globe Win! midian-6
Wayne State Golden327
Beautiful Jaybird bronxred
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