S. Epatha Merkerson Bio - Law & Order Star

BY PALISTHA Updated on 17 March, 2021

S. Epatha Merkerson is one of the most well-known African-American actress in Hollywood. Income Source: S. Epatha Merkerson Instagram

Quick Wikis
Fact Value
Birth Name Sharon Epatha Merkerson
Birth Day 11/28/1952
Birth place Saginaw, Michigan, USA
Zodiac Sign Sagittarius
Nationality American
Profession Actress
Net Worth $11 million
College/University Cooley High School and Wayne State University
Eye color Black
Hair Color Black

American actress S. Epatha Merkerson has been entertaining the audiences through her acting abilities since the 1980s. She has portrayed many different characters in movies and television series and is regarded as one of the most successful African American actresses in the industry.

As a well-known actress, S. Epatha Merkerson's life has been a topic of interest for thousands of people. And fans of the actress are always eager to know more about the person who portrayed their favorite characters.

Early Life, Family, And Education

Sharon Epatha Merkerson, professionally known as S. Epatha Merkerson, was born in Saginaw, Michigan, on November 28, 1952. She was raised by her single mother after her parents separated when she was just five. Her mother worked for the United States Postal Service. She and her four older siblings grew up in a Euro-American neighborhood in Detroit. The Merkerson family faced racism on multiple occasions in their community.

S. Epatha Merkerson Siblings.

Merkerson attended the Cooley High School and graduated in 1970. She then attended Eastern Michigan University as a dance major but later transferred to Indiana University Bloomington. In 1976, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre from Wayne State University.

In addition to her degree, S. Epatha is also a recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Wayne State University, University of Maryland, Montclair State University, and the University of Pittsburgh. She was awarded these honorary degrees for her works in the entertainment industry.

S. Epatha Merkerson Net Worth And Career

The talented actress joined a theater company in Albany, New York, and has not looked back since. As a result, S. Epatha Merkerson's net worth is estimated to be $11 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. However, some sources report that her net worth is $5 million.

Income From Television Career

S. Epatha started her television career in 1988 from The Cosby Show. She went on to appear in other series like Pee-wee's Playhouse, Mann & Machine, Here and Now, among others. However, she is mostly known for her portrayal of Lieutenant Anita Van Buren in the famous show Law & Order. She was part of the show for about two decades and appeared in three hundred and ninety-one episodes.

Merkerson has since shown off her acting skills in television series like Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire, and Chicago Med and undoubtedly earns thousands of dollars per episode. S. Epatha Merkerson's salary from these series has definitely helped increase her total net worth.

Income From Movies

Just like on television, the beautiful actress also earned recognition from her movie roles. She has starred in many independent movies but also was a part of high-budget films like the Terminators series. One of her most well-known roles was in the 2012 drama, Lincoln, where she played the role of Lydia Smith. Some of S. Epatha Merkerson's movies and their respective box-office earnings are given below:

Films Collection
Navy Seals $25M
Jacob's Ladder $26.12M
Terminator 2: Judgement Day $520.88M
Random Hearts $74.6M
Black Snake Moan $10.9M
Mother and Child $5.62M
Lincoln $275.29M
Peeples $9.3M

Many of the actresses ' movies did well at the box-office and earned millions worldwide. And as a part of these projects, S. Epatha Merkerson's net worth must have heavily benefitted from the salary and additional earnings she earned.

Marriage And Children

While S. Epatha's professional life is an open book, her love life, and relationships, on the other hand, are doused with mystery. She has kept most of her life away from the world, and among the few pieces of information that is available is her marriage to her then-husband Toussaint L. Jones.

Merkerson married Toussaint L. Jones in 1994 and lived their lives in private. The pair then divorced in 2006 after twelve years of marriage. There is no information about the reason behind the separation, and the couple did not have any children.

As the actress updates regularly on her social media, never has she mentioned her kids or husband.

S. Epatha Merkerson's Fight With Diabetes

While S. Epatha Merkerson's onscreen character, Lieutenant Anita Van Buren, suffered from cervical cancer, off-screen, she was suffering from diabetes. In an interview from 2016, the talented actress revealed that she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes thirteen years ago.

S. Epatha Merkerson reportedly has a family history of the illness but did not recognize her symptoms for a long time. She had to go through many physical, mental, and emotional transformation after her diagnosis. She changed her eating habits, which resulted in Merkerson's 40 pounds weight loss. This helped control not only her blood pressure but also her sleeping disorder.

In addition to diabetes, Merkerson has also talked about her smoking habit. While she was a smoker for about twenty-three years, she quit smoking after a health scare in the 1990s. She also lost one of her friends due to lung cancer, which helped her learn more about the result of smoking.

Years later, S. Epatha is an activist and a part of the Campaign for Tobacco, which lets people know about the effects of smoking. She has continued advocating against smoking and also used her fame to help people learn more about diabetes.


  • Her middle name Epatha comes from a teacher who inspired Merkerson's father to stay in school.
  • S. Epatha Merkerson has been nominated and won many awards like Golden Globe and Emmy Awards.
  • She was awarded the Regulus Award from the Cancer Care organization due to her awareness works on lung cancer.

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Published on 06 September, 2020

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