S. Epatha Merkerson (/i??pe¦???/; born Sharon Epatha Merkerson; November 28, 1952) is an American film, stage, and television actress. She has won a Golden Globe, an Emmy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Obie Award and four NAACP Image Awards. She has also received two Tony Award nominations. She is best known for her role as NYPD Lieutenant Anita Van Buren from 1993 to 2010 on the long-running NBC police procedural drama series Law & Order. She appeared in 391 episodes of the seriesƒ??more than any other cast member.