S. Epatha Merkerson, Law & Order
S. Epatha Merkerson likely gave fans of NBC's Law & Order (Wednesdays at 10pm/ET) a jolt with her downright giddy acceptance speech at this year's Golden Globes. Far from the levelheaded sobriety of her TV alter ego, Lt. Anita Van Buren, Merkerson let it all hang out. "I feel like I'm 16!" gushed the 53-year-old stage and screen veteran as she accepted the best-actress award for her role in HBO's Lackawanna Blues TV-movie. "And if I wasn't in the middle of a hot flash, I'd believe that."
Merkerson's been feeling a lot of warmth lately. She's not only the longest-running cast member on Law & Order but the "longest-running African-American woman on a television drama." That makes her,