S. Epatha Merkerson Bio, Age, Cancer, Net Worth, Law & Order, Movies, Shows

S. Epatha Merkerson Biography

S. Epatha Merkerson (Sharon Epatha Merkerson) is an American film, stage and television actress. Merkerson has received numerous high-profile accolades for her work, including an Emmy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Golden Globe Award, four NAACP Image Awards, two Obie Awards and two Tony Award nominations. She is also the recipient of 4 honorary doctorate degrees.

Merkerson is best known for her award-winning portrayal of Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on the NBC police procedural drama series Law & Order, a role she played from 1993 to 2010. Merkerson appeared in 395 episodes of the series—more than any other cast member. Merkerson became the host of Find Our Missing in 2012, a reality-reenactment series on TV One which profiles missing people of color. She was cast as Sharon Goodwin in 2015, Chief of Medical Services of the fictional Gaffney Chicago Medical Center Hospital on the NBC medical drama Chicago Med.

S. Epatha Merkerson Age

S.Epatha Merkerson is 66 years old as per 2018 born on November 28, 1952 in Saginaw, Michigan, United States.

S Epatha Merkerson Husband

S. Epatha Merkerson was married to  Toussaint L. Jones from 1994 to 2006.

S Epatha Merkerson Cancer

S. Epatha Merkerson is an outspoken advocate against smoking and for lung cancer research and awareness. “My health is fine,” Merkerson, assures us. “It’s Lt. Van Buren who’s going through cervical cancer not me.” however, Merkerson is on a serious anti-smoking crusade: “If someone had told me that two close friends who celebrated my 40th birthday would not be around to celebrate my 50th, I would have said they were lying. I miss them.”

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S Epatha Merkerson Net Worth

S. Epatha Merkerson has a net worth of $5 million dollars.

S. Epatha Merkerson Personal Life

When S. Epatha Merkerson was five her parents separated, being one of five children raised by a single mother who worked for the United States Postal Service, Merkerson grew up in a what she recalled to be a majority-white neighborhood in Detroit. On the January 31, 2012 during a segment, episode of The Wendy Williams Show, when questioned about the origin of her name, Merkerson shared that “Epatha” was the name of “a grade-school teacher who was influential in keeping [her father] in school”. Merkerson further clarifies that she prefers to be addressed as “Epatha” as opposed to “S. Epatha”.

S. Epatha Merkerson Education

In 1970, S. Epatha Merkerson graduated from Cooley High School. Initially, Merkerson attended Eastern Michigan University as a dance major and later transferring to Indiana University Bloomington, in 1976 she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre at Wayne State University. In May 2009, Merkerson was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Wayne State University and received the same distinction from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 2012; Montclair State University in 2013 and University of Pittsburgh in 2017.

S. Epatha Merkerson Career

Law And Order

S. Epatha Merkerson moved to Albany, New York in 1978, to join a theater company and later moved to New York City. She made her television debut as Reba the Mail Lady on Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Merkerson also appeared on The Cosby Show, among other series. Merkerson first appeared in the NBC police procedural drama Law & Order in Season 1: Episode 17, titled “Mushrooms”, as the grief-stricken mother of an 11-month-old boy who is shot accidentally. Merkerson’s performance impressed the producers enough to select her to replace Dann Florek as detective squad chief in the series’ fourth season, making her one of the few actors to secure a recurring role after an initial single appearance on the show.

Her star began to rise after she assumed the lead role in the one-woman play, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. That was followed by a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Play as Berniece in August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning play The Piano Lesson for her performance. In 1992, Merkerson won an Obie Award for her work in I’m Not Stupid. Merkerson screen credits include Jacob’s Ladder, Loose Cannons, She’s Gotta Have It, James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day; and “Navy Seals”. Merkerson won a Golden Globe Award in 2006, an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild award for her performance in the HBO film Lackawanna Blues. She starred as Lola Delaney in the Los Angeles stage production of William Inge’s Come Back, in 2007, Little Sheba, playing the role made famous by Shirley Booth. The production opened a successful run on Broadway in January 2008 and earned Merkerson her second Tony nomination.

It was confirmed on April 1, 2010, that after 17 seasons, Merkerson would leave Law & Order at the end of the show’s twentieth season. Merkerson’s departure from Law & Order, which aired on May 24, 2010, was also the show’s final episode. Merkerson appeared on the series for 17 consecutive seasons – 395 episodes in total, which was more than any other actor associated with the program. Merkerson became the host of the show Find Our Missing in 2012, which highlights the search for missing people of color. The show is designed to put names and faces to people of color who have disappeared without a trace. Each episode tells the story of the missing person(s), beginning with the day they vanished, the frantic searches by loved ones and the investigations into their disappearances. Find Our Missing provides insight into these victims’ lives: their hopes and dreams, what makes them tick and how they have touched those around them — from the people who knew them best.

S. Epatha Merkerson also appeared as Lydia Hamilton Smith in Steven Spielberg’s 2012 film Lincoln, housekeeper to Tommy Lee Jones’s character, Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. Merkerson appeared in the Primary Stages production of While I Yet Live in 2014, which was written by Tony Award winner Billy Porter. Merkerson joined the cast of NBC medical drama Chicago Med in 2015 as Sharon Goodwin, Chief of Medical Services. The series was conceived and written by Law and Order creator Dick Wolf, along with Matt Olmstead, Derek Haas and Michael Brandt. S. Epatha Merkerson became a spokesperson for Merck America’s Diabetes Challenge in 2014, to increase type 2 diabetes awareness among African Americans.

S. Epatha Merkerson Movies

Year

Title

Role

Notes

1986

She’s Gotta Have It

Doctor Jamison

1990

Loose Cannons

Rachel

1990

Jacob’s Ladder

Elsa

1990

Navy Seals

Jolena

1991

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Tarissa Dyson

1999

Random Hearts

Nea

2001

The Rising Place

Lessie Watson

2003

Radio

Maggie

2004

Jersey Girl

Doctor

2006

Black Snake Moan

Angela

2007

Slipstream

Bonnie

2009

The Six Wives of Henry Lefay

Effa

2009

Mother and Child

Ada

2012

Find Our Missing

Herself

2012

Lincoln

Lydia Smith

2013

Tyler Perry Presents Peeples

Daphne Peeples

2015
The Challenger
Jada

2016

Year by the Sea

Liz

S. Epatha Merkerson TV Shows

Year

Title

Role

Notes

1986–1989

Pee-wee’s Playhouse

Reba the Mail Woman

16 episodes

1988

The Cosby Show

Book Club Member #5

Episode: “Bookworm”

1989

CBS Summer Playhouse

Jimmie

Episode: “Elysian Fields”

1990

Equal Justice

Mrs. Walters

Episode: “Pilot”

1991

Law & Order

Denise Winters

Episode: “Mushrooms”

1992

Mann & Machine

Capt. Margaret Claghorn

9 episodes

1992–1993

Here and Now

Ms. St. Marth

12 episodes

1993–2010

Law & Order

Anita Van Buren

388 episodes
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2006, 2010–11)
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series (1997–99, 2001)
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2007–09)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (1997–2002, 2004)

1994

A Place for Annie

Alice

Television movie

1995

A Mother’s Prayer

Ruby

Television movie

1998

Exiled

Anita Van Buren

Television movie

2000

Frasier

Dr. McCaskill

Episode: “Dark Side of the Moon”

2001

Art:21

Herself

Episode: “Spirituality”

2001

A Girl Thing

Lani

Television movie

2002

Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Anita Van Buren

Episode: “Badge”

2005

Law & Order: Trial by Jury

Anita Van Buren

Episode: “Skeleton”

2005

Lackawanna Blues

Rachel “Nanny” Crosby

Television movie
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Female Lead in a Miniseries
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Prism Award for Performance in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film

2007

The Closer

Dr. Rebecca Dioli

3 episodes

2007

Girl, Positive

Ariel Winters

Television movie
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special

2012

Drop Dead Diva

Judge Hiller

Episode: “Lady Parts”

2013

The Good Wife

Judge Melanie Ellis

Episode: “Going for the Gold”

2013

Deception

Beverly

3 episodes

2014

The Gabby Douglas Story

Miss Caroline

Television movie

2015

Being Mary Jane

Mark’s mother

Episode: “Freedom”

2015–Present

Chicago Fire

Sharon Goodwin

5 episodes

Chicago Med

Main

2016–Present

Chicago P.D.

5 episodes

 S. Epatha Merkerson Awards

  • 1992 Obie Award Outstanding Performance (I’m Not Stupid)
  • 1999 Helen Hayes Award Outstanding Lead Actress-Resident Play (The Old Settler)
  • 2002 Regulus Award For her dedication to lung cancer awareness and education
  • 2005 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (Lackawanna Blues)
  • 2006 SunDeis Film Festival at Brandeis University Entertainer of the Year Award
  • 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or
  • Miniseries (Lackawanna Blues)
  • 2006 PRISM Award Performance in a TV-Movie or Miniseries (Lackawanna Blues)
  • 2006 Obie Award Outstanding Performance (Birdie Blue)
  • 2006 NAACP Image Award Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Law & Order)
  • 2006 NAACP Image Award Best Actress in a Made for TV Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special (Lackawanna
  • Blues)
  • 2006 Gracie Allen Award Outstanding Female Lead – Miniseries (Lackawanna Blues)
  • 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for
  • Television (Lackawanna Blues)
  • 2006 Black Reel Award Best Actress in a Made for TV Movie or Miniseries (Lackawanna Blues)
  • 2010 NAACP Image Award Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Law & Order)
  • 2011 NAACP Image Award Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Law & Order)
  • 2013 Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters, Montclair State University.

S. Epatha Merkerson Nominations

  • 1990 Helen Hayes Award Best Actress, Non-Resident Play (The Piano Lesson)
  • 1990 Drama Desk Award Best Actress, Lead Role-Play (The Piano Lesson)
  • 1990 Tony Award Best Actress, Featured Role-Play (The Piano Lesson)
  • 1997 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Law & Order)
  • 1998 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Law & Order)
  • 1999 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Law & Order)
  • 2001 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Law & Order)
  • 2003 Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Lead Actress (Fucking A)
  • 2003 Drama League Award Distinguished Performance (Fucking A)
  • 2005 Satellite Award Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television
  • (Lackawanna Blues)
  • 2006 Vision Award Best Dramatic Performance (Lackawanna Blues)
  • 2006 Lucille Lortel Award Best Actress (Birdie Blue)
  • 2006 Independent Spirit Award Best Female Lead (Lackawanna Blues)
  • 2006 Drama League Award Distinguished Performance (Birdie Blue)
  • 2007 NAACP Image Award Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Law & Order)
  • 2008 NAACP Image Award Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Law & Order)
  • 2008 NAACP Image Award Best Actress in a Made for TV Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special (Girl,
  • Positive)
  • 2008 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (Come Back, Little Sheba)
  • 2008 NAACP Theatre Award Best Lead Female – Equity (Come Back, Little Sheba)

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