Actress S. Epatha Merkerson, perhaps best known for her work on the television series “Law & Order,” will serve as speaker for the University’s undergraduate commencement convocation at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 30. This event will take place in the John M. and Gertrude E. Petersen Events Center.
Merkerson portrayed Lt. Anita Van Buren in the long-running police procedural “Law & Order,” from 1993–2010. She received wide critical acclaim for her performance in the 2005 film “Lackawanna Blues” and currently is a costar on the medical drama “Chicago Med.” In an acting career spanning nearly 40 years, Merkerson’s film and television work has been recognized with an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and four NAACP Image awards.
A native of Saginaw, Mich., Merkerson started her career in New York City off-Broadway theater. Delving back into stage acting throughout her career, she has been the recipient of a Drama Desk Award, the Helen Hayes Award, the Obie Award, and has been nominated for a Tony Award. Merkerson’s first television roles were as Reba the Mail Lady on CBS’s “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and as Capt. Margaret Claghorn on NBC’s “Mann & Machine.” In addition to “Lackawanna Blues,” Merkerson’s major film credits include “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Black Snake Moan” and “Lincoln.”
Merkerson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Wayne State University. She was also conferred an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Wayne State.