Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$12 Million
Nov 28, 1952 (71 years old)
5 ft 5 in (1.67 m)
United States of America
💰 Compare S. Epatha Merkerson's Net Worth

What is S. Epatha Merkerson's Net Worth and Salary?

S. Epatha Merkerson is an American actress who has a net worth of $12 million. S. Epatha Merkerson is probably best-known for her long-running role as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on NBC's "Law & Order". She appeared in 395 episodes of the franchise (including guest appearances in sister shows) between 1993 and 2010. For many years Merkerson held the record for the longest-running African-American character on television. That record was overtaken by Ice T, who achieved the feat on "Law & Order: SVU." After Since leaving "Law & Order" in 2010, she has continued to appear in a wide variety of film, television, and theater projects. She has won numerous awards, including an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, an Obie, and four NAACP Image Awards. She has also been nominated for two Tony Awards. In 2015 she began appearing as a main cast member of the "Chicago" series of shows (Fire, Med, P.D.). Merkerson has also appeared in many films, including "She's Gotta Have It," "Jacob's Ladder," "Lackawanna Blues," "Lincoln," and "Year by the Sea."

Early Life and Education

Sharon Epatha Merkerson was born on November 28, 1952 in Saginaw, Michigan and grew up in Detroit. She has four older siblings named Linda, Debbie, Barrie, and Zephry; the kids were raised by their mother Ann, a post office worker. Merkerson was educated at Cooley High School, from which she graduated in 1970. She went on to attend Wayne State University, earning her BFA degree in theatre in 1976. After that, Merkerson obtained her MFA from New York University in 1978.

Television Career

Merkerson began her television career in 1986 playing Reba the Mail Lady on the CBS Saturday morning show "Pee-wee's Playhouse." She remained on the show until 1989. After that, Merkerson appeared in the pilot episode of "Equal Justice"; she also made her first appearance on "Law & Order," playing the grief-stricken mother of a slain baby. In 1992, she had main roles on two short-lived NBC series: the science-fiction police drama "Mann & Machine" and the sitcom "Here and Now."

Merkerson landed her biggest role the next year when she joined "Law & Order" in its fourth season. Her guest performance earlier in the show's run impressed producers so much that they chose her to replace Dann Florek as the detective squad chief. Merkerson went on to play Lieutenant Anita Van Buren for 17 seasons of "Law & Order" through 2010, when the show ended. For her work, she earned multiple SAG and NAACP Image Award nominations, winning three NAACP Image Awards overall.

Merkerson had many other credits during the run of "Law & Order." In the 90s, she appeared in the television films "A Place for Annie" and "A Mother's Prayer." She gave one of her most acclaimed performances in 2005, starring as boarding house lady Rachel "Nanny" Crosby in the HBO television film "Lackawanna Blues," based on the eponymous play. Merkerson won a slew of laurels for her performance, including Golden Globe, Emmy, SAG, and NAACP Image Awards. Following that, she appeared on "The Closer" and in the Lifetime television movie "Girl, Positive." Merkerson's next main role came in 2015, when she began playing Sharon Goodwin on NBC's "Chicago Med." She also appeared in the role in some episodes of "Chicago Fire" and "Chicago P.D."

S. Epatha Merkerson Net Worth


Film Career

In 1986, the same year she first appeared on television, Merkerson made her film debut in Spike Lee's "She's Gotta Have It." She didn't return to the big screen until 1990, when she appeared in three films: the action comedy "Loose Cannons," the psychological horror film "Jacob's Ladder," and the military action film "Navy SEALS." Merkerson subsequently played Tarissa Dyson in James Cameron's blockbuster science-fiction action sequel "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."

In the early 00s, Merkerson had supporting roles in "The Rising Place," "Radio," and "Jersey Girl." She continued appearing in supporting roles in such films as "Black Snake Moan," "Slipstream," "The Six Wives of Henry Lefay," and "Mother and Child." In 2012, Merkerson portrayed Lydia Smith, the housekeeper of Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, in Steven Spielberg's Academy Award-winning biopic "Lincoln." Next, Merkerson played the mother of Kerry Washington's character in the 2013 romcom "Peeples." Her other credits include the sports drama "The Challenger" and the dramedy "Year by the Sea."

Stage Career

On stage, Merkerson had her breakthrough in early 1987 in the one-woman play "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill," in which she played famous singer Billie Holiday. Following that, she played Berniece in the original Broadway production of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "The Piano Lesson." Merkerson received a Tony Award nomination for her work. She went on to earn further plaudits, including a pair of Obie Awards, for her work in "I'm Not Stupid" and "Birdie Blue." Merkerson's other stage credits have included "The Old Settler," "F**king A," "While I Yet Live," and "Come Back, Little Sheba," for which she earned her second Tony nomination.

Personal Life

From 1994 until their divorce in 2006, Merkerson was married to Toussaint Jones Jr. The couple did not have any children together.

Appearing on Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s PBS genealogy television show "Finding Your Roots," Merkerson learned that she is a descendant of Isaac Hawkins and eight other enslaved people who were sold in the 1838 Jesuit slave sale.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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