S. Epatha Merkerson S. Epatha Merkerson

On Monday at 9 pm/ET, S. Epatha Merkerson costars with Jennie Garth and Andrea Bowen (Julie Mayer on Desperate Housewives) in the Lifetime drama Girl, Positive, about a high-school honor student who contracts HIV. We spoke with the Emmy-winning actress about the TV-movie gig, big changes at Law & Order and her secretive stint on The Closer.

TV Guide: What do you hope viewers will come away with after watching Girl, Positive?
S. Epatha Merkerson:
Most importantly, the fact that AIDS and HIV are still a part of our lives and young people need to be aware of what they're doing. Kids need to really wake up — the statistics are still quite mind-boggling.

TV Guide: How does it feel to now be the senior cast member of Law & Order?
Odd. You know, if I had known that this show would last as long as it has, I probably would have spent my money differently and I would own half of Manhattan. It took me like eight years to actually put something in my dressing room. I guess there are worse things to be than the veteran of a long-running, successful television show. [Laughs]

TV Guide: And Jeremy Sisto is joining the cast.
I hear he's a lovely guy, so I can't wait, plus he's eye candy. I've been around for a lot of cast changes and they've all made the show interesting, they've given it a different texture. I will miss Milena [Govich], but I look forward to Jeremy.

TV Guide: Aren't there times you wish the no-nonsense Anita could just relax?
You know, I tell them that all the time. If you look at some of the earlier episodes, her buttons were all the way up to the top — I think Miss Thing is showing some cleavage now, so she has loosened up a bit.

TV Guide: You have an arc coming up on TNT's The Closer.
I'm having big fun — I love Kyra [Sedgwick], she's just a joy to work with. [My character is] a therapist — that's about all I can say.

TV Guide: You started out as Reba the mail lady on Pee-Wee's Playhouse.
I love that my grandnephew, who's 7, is screaming at the "magic word." It's really cool that this whole generation can view them on DVD.

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