S. Epatha Merkerson - Lieutenant Anita Van Buren
An Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award winner, S. Epatha Merkerson has won critical acclaim for her brilliant work in theatre, television and film.
Merkerson, currently in production on her 16th season of the perennial hit series "Law and Order," received a 2006 NAACP Image Award and 2007, 2008 and 2009 NAACP Image Award Nomination for her portrayal of Lieutenant Anita Van Buren. The 20th season of the show is scheduled to premiere on September 25, 2009.
On stage, Merkerson was last seen on Broadway in "Come Back Little Sheba" directed by Michael Pressman at the Biltmore Theatre. She received a Tony nomination, a Drama League nomination, and an Outer Critics Circle nomination for her portrayal of Lola Delaney. She also starred in the LA production of "Sheba" at the Kirk Douglas Theater in summer 2007.
Starring in the HBO film "Lackawanna Blues" as Rachel "Nanny" Crosby she also garnered a 2006 NAACP Image Award, a Gracie Allen Award and an IFP Spirit nomination. Other film credits include: "The Rising Place," "Radio" (Cammie Award), "Jersey Girl," "Random Hearts," "Terminator II:Judgement Day," "Jacobs Ladder," "Navy Seals," "Loose Cannons," "Black Snake Moan" with Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake and the independent film "Slipstream" written and directed by Anthony Hopkins. The film premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and opened in LA and New York in October 2007. She can be seen in the upcoming films "The Six Wives of Henry Lefay" starring Tim Allen and "Mother and Child," written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia.
Merkerson has co-starred in numerous television movies including "Girl," "Positive" (for which she is nominated for a 2008 NAACP Image Award), "A Mother's Prayer" with Linda Hamilton, "An Unexpected Life" and "It's a Girl Thing" with Stockard Channing, and "A Place for Annie" with Mary-Louise Parker and Sissy Spacek. In 1998, she reprised her role as Lt. Anita Van Buren for the NBC movie "Exiled" with Chris Noth.
Prior to "Law & Order" Merkerson was a series regular on "Peewee's Playhouse" where she played "Reba The Mail Lady", Dick Wolf's "Mann and Machine" and the "Cosby" spin-off "Here and Now" with Malcolm Jamal Warner. She also filmed pilots "Moe's World," "Elysian Fields" and "Equal Justice" and made guest appearances on "The Cosby Show," and the NBC comedy "Frasier" and can be seen in a 3-episode arc of "The Closer."
On stage she has performed On and Off Broadway in productions including Suzan Lori-Parks' "F**king A" (Lucille Lortel nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress); August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Piano Lesson" (Tony, Drama Desk and Helen Hayes nominations for Best Actress); the Young Playwrights Festival's production of "I'm not stupid" (Obie Award); :The Old Settler" (Helen Hayes Award), and Cheryl West's' play "Birder Blue" (Obie Award, Lucille Lortel nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress and Drama League Distinguished Performance Award).
Merkerson, who is a graduate of Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Wayne State in May 2009.
A native of Detroit Michigan, she resides New York City.