Rarely lacking in confidence, Wilson began appearing on stage in her hometown of Houston when she was just 5 years old. After studying acting at New York University, she landed bits on both the big and small screens and made the most of her limited camera time. (She was particularly memorable as an aimless Army recruit in the 1996 feature Lone Star.) But theater offered her the meatiest roles and she consistently earned accolades for her work in both musicals and dramas. In 2005, after spending three decades in the ranks of working no-name actors, Wilson snagged the career-making part of stern senior resident Miranda Bailey (nicknamed "the Nazi") on the medical dramedy Grey's Anatomy, earning multiple Emmy nods for her stellar work. Although the schedule for Grey's Anatomy was demanding, Wilson managed to find time to star in the 2008 Hallmark Channel film Accidental Friendship (which earned her yet another Emmy nomination) as well as return to the Broadway stage in 2009 in the role of Matron "Mama" Morton in Chicago.