S. Epatha Merkerson


Date Of Birth

November 28, 1952


S. Epatha Merkerson is an award-winning actress who has successfully established herself on the small screen. Best known for her role as NYPD Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on Law & Order, she has the distinction of appearing on 390 episodes of the series-- the most number over any other cast member.

Prior to his most famous role, Merkerson played Reba on several episodes of Pee-wee's Playhouse. She also appeared on Mann & Machine, Here and Now, and The Closer. On the big screen, she was cast in Lackawanna Blues, which earned her several awards, Mother and Child, Random Hearts, Black Snake Moan and Jersey Girl, just to name a few. In 2015, she was cast to play Sharon Goodwin on Chicago Fire, a role she would later play on the spin-off Chicago Med.

Place of Birth

Saginaw, Michigan, USA

Birth Name

Sharon Epatha Merkerson



Fun Facts

-She smoked for 20 years before deciding to quit.

-She wore a wig on Law and Order.


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 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 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)


2015 Chicago Med (TV Series)
2015 Chicago Fire (TV Series)
2015 The Challenger
2015 Being Mary Jane (TV Series)
2014 The Gabby Douglas Story (TV Movie)
2013 Peeples
2013 Deception (TV Series)
2013 The Good Wife (TV Series)
2013 Boomerang (TV Movie)
2012 Lincoln
2012 Drop Dead Diva (TV Series)
1991-2010 Law & Order (TV series)
2009 Mother and Child
2009 Great Performances (TV series)
2009 The Six Wives of Henry Lefay
1999-2008 American Masters (TV series documentary)
2007 The Closer (TV series)
2007 Girl, Positive (TV movie)
2007 Slipstream
2006 Black Snake Moan
2005 Law & Order: Trial by Jury (TV series)
2005 Lackawanna Blues (TV movie)
2004 Jersey Girl
2003 Radio
2003 Law & Order II: Double or Nothing (Video Game)
2002 Law & Order: Dead on the Money (Video Game)
2002 Law & Order: Criminal Intent (TV series)
2001 The Rising Place
2001 A Girl Thing (TV movie)
2000 Frasier (TV series)
1999 Random Hearts
1998 Exiled (TV movie)
1998 An Unexpected Life (TV movie)
1996 Breaking Through (TV movie)
1995 A Mother's Prayer (TV movie)
1994 A Place for Annie (TV movie)
1993 South Beach (TV series)
1993 It's Nothing Personal (TV movie)
1992-1993 Here and Now (TV series)
1992 Mann & Machine (TV series)
1992 ABC Afterschool Specials (TV series)
1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day
1990/I Jacob's Ladder
1990 Navy Seals
1990 Equal Justice (TV series)
1990 Loose Cannons
1990 Moe's World (TV movie)
1987-1989 Pee-wee's Playhouse (TV series)
1989 CBS Summer Playhouse (TV series)
1988 The Cosby Show (TV series)
1986 She's Gotta Have It


5' 6" (1.68 m)


"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."

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