The youngest of five children. Grew up in Michigan. Attended Wayne State University in Detroit. S. Epatha made her Broadway debut as the understudy for Lynne Thigpen in the musical Tintypes. It was ten years later she created the role of Bernice, the no nonsense wife, in August Wilson's Puliter Prize winning play, The Piano Lesson. She received a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play and a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actress in a Play. It was another 18 years before she would return to Broadway in the revival of Come Back, Little Sheba recreating the role of Lola (which made Shirley Booth a star.)
S. Epatha made her television series debut in the Saturday morning show Peewee's Playhouse playing Reba the Mail Lady. It was a guest role in Season One of Law & Order, that led to her being cast as a regular starting in Season Four. This makes Lieutenant Anita Van Buren the show's longest running character.
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