S. Epatha Merkerson is a celebrated actress known for her role as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on Law & Order. Born in Detroit, Michigan, she holds a Bachelor's degree in Theatre from Wayne State University and a Master's degree in Fine Arts from New York University. Merkerson's initial appearance on Law & Order impressed the producers, leading to her becoming a recurring character for 17 seasons. She also played Reba the Mail Lady on Pee-wee's Playhouse and portrayed Sharon Goodwin on Chicago Med. Merkerson has received numerous accolades, including an Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, four NAACP Image Awards, two Obie Awards, and two Tony Award nominations. She has been honored with Honorary Doctorate degrees from Wayne State University, Montclair State University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.