Thursday, October 6, 2022

‘Chicago Med’ Star S. Epatha Merkerson Talks Playing A Woman ‘of Authority’ [EUR Exclusive]

 NBC Chicago day 2016
‘Chicago Med’ actor S. Epatha Merkerson speaks to members of the press during NBC Chicago day.

*“Chicago Med” will wrap up the #OneChicago episodes tonight, Thursday, Jan. 5, and unfortunately, a main character will make a “tragic exit” before the end of the season. Who will it be, how, and will the death serve as a catalyst for a dramatic crossover episode with “Chicago P.D.” and “Chicago Fire?”

One star from the show who is not spilling the tea about what fans can expect is actresses S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays Sharon Goodwin, the Chief of the Hospital on the NBC medical drama.

The award-winning star has been collaborating with series creator Dick Wolf for over two decades, and during NBC Chicago day last October, she explained to EUR/Electronic Urban Report why she enjoys exploring these dramatic worlds that Wolf creates.

“Every actor loves good writing, and you can always be guaranteed good storytelling with Dick Wolf,” Merkerson said. She also praised executive producers Andrew Schneider and Diane Frolov for essentially saving the show in the nick of time.

“Andy and Diane came in at the last minute last year. We had a writer who had been working for like six months, and they came in and they started writing and they put it together so quickly. I have to give them a lot of props because we were all here and ready to go and there was no script. So they’re extraordinary, and the stories that they have been writing have been so compelling,” she explained.

“All of us are learning something about the medical field that none of us knew. So with Dick, you know the writing is going to be extraordinary (and) the production is going to be first class. Most important for me, he’s loyal. I’ve know known him over 25 years. This is the fourth show that I’ve done with Dick. Not all of them were successful, but I think if I would say anything about him that I would attitude to him that important is his loyalty.”

READ RELATED STORY: Dick Wolf: King of Crossovers Takes Chicago, Talks TV Dominance [EUR Exclusive]

NBC Chicago day 2016
S. Epatha Merkerson and ‘Chicago Med’ executive producers Andrew Schneider and Diane Frolov during NBC Chicago day.

“Chicago Med” is the third series in Wolf’s Chicago franchise. The drama focuses on the emergency department at Gaffney Chicago Medical Center and on its doctors and nurses as they work to save patients’ lives. The series sometimes intertwines with characters from “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.”

Merkerson is best known for her role as NYPD Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on the long-running NBC police procedural drama series “Law & Order.” She appeared in 391 episodes of the series—more than any other cast member. During that October press event celebrating the franchise, she explained how her role on ‘Med’ compares to ‘SVU.’

“Well, something that we never got to do on Law & Order was delve into personal relationships, and so Goodwin is going through a divorce, (then) we meet her very first love… he comes into the hospital. So I think that’s what I appreciate about Goodwin, because she’s a woman of authority so of course no different from Van Buren. It’s a woman in charge — an African-American woman in charge, and in a world where they’re mostly men.”

NBC Chicago day 2016
‘Chicago Med’ actors preparing an extra for a c-section during a set demo for NBC Chicago day.

When asked if she mourns Van Buren at all, Merkerson replied: “I don’t actually. I did seventeen years. I did a little bit of everything and then that last year with the character going through the whole cancer issue, where I did have the opportunity to go beyond the story and the telling of the story — that was really great. But I think that I’m comfortable in having left her, and I’m exited about the things that my character will be able to do on Med.”

However, Merkerson confessed that her ‘Med’ character wears one personal item of Van Buren’s: her watch. She said she brought the watch over to the new show, “Because I wanted to have something that I carried over. They didn’t ask me, I brought it with me.”

NBC Chicago day 2016
‘Chicago Med’ star Nick Gehlfuss during a set demo with various members of press for NBC Chicago day.

When “Chicago Med” returns this week, Dr. Daniel Charles (Oliver Platt) and Dr. Connor Rhodes (Colin Donnell) will clash. At the end of Season 2, Goodwin (Merkerson) assigns Charles with the task of evaluating a patient who urgently needs a heart transplant. He must decide whether she gets the heart or not. Rhodes believes his patient will die if she receive a heart soon.

Elsewhere in the hospital, April (Yaya DaCosta) is concerned about her unborn child while taking medicine for a rare form of tuberculosis.

“I think April has grown up a bit, she’s had to,” DaCosta said about her character’s evolution during the October event celebrating the franchise. “Life has thrown some things at her and she hasn’t had a choice. Having her little brother there is also a nice reference point. In relation to him you get so see her maturity, rather than being this young woman who wishes she had a different life, but she’s a lot more settled now and having to make some tough decisions. And the kinds of decisions that she’s making this season are the kind that grow people up very quickly.”

NBC Chicago day 2016
‘Chicago Med’ actor Yaya DaCosta speaks to members of the press during NBC Chicago day.

DaCosta’s co-star Marlyne Barrett also noted her character’s growth over the past two seasons, and explained how moving forward viewers will get to see “the real heart” behind Maggie.

“I was talking to somebody else about it, and it was a clear conversation that I wanted to have (about) the idea of pacing my character. Pacing the idea of Maggie getting to know so many people (and how she) gives-gives-gives-gives,” Barrett said.

“We wanted to slow down the pace and introduce the real heart behind Maggie, and what it’s taken for her to get out of the South Side to get over here. I’m Caribbean and I’m French by heritage, so to choose to have a heritage that was from the South Side of Chicago when I know one of the founding members of Chicago is a Haitian man. I just wanted to not be Caribbean but just be from the home base of Chicago,” she explained. “So I drive around those areas a lot to understand what it takes for a woman to claw her way out of the repetitive cycles that sometimes present themselves. So Maggie has an inner strength that comes from shedding a lot of tears and I think we’re meeting those tears now with these story lines.”

NBC Chicago day 2016
Marlyne Barrett & her husband (left) with executive producer Dick Wolf (right) during NBC Chicago day.

“You ask any doctor, they will say to you if you want to know what’s going on in the hospital, talk to the nurses, and Goodwin comes from nursing and so she really has a handle on what’s happening and when it’s not happening — how to deal with it,” Merkerson said when asked what she enjoys most about playing her character.

“She’s constantly putting out fires, but I think she’s trusts her doctors in her E.D., and she knows they’re passionate. But their passion can sometimes get in the way of regulations, and so that’s what she’s there for — to accept that they know what they’re doing, but we all have to do it in the proper way.”

“Chicago Med” returns tonight, Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9/8c on NBC.

“Chicago Justice,” the highly-anticipated spin-off featuring Carl Weathers, will premiere on Sunday, March 5 at 9/8c.

Check out more pics from NBC Chicago day below.

NBC Chicago day 2016
‘Chicago Med’ stars Oliver Platt & Rachel DiPillo during NBC Chicago day.

NBC Chicago day 2016
‘Chicago Med’ actors Yaya DaCosta & Rachel DiPillo during NBC Chicago day.

Chicago Justice
“Chicago Justice” actor Carl Weathers speaks to members of the press during NBC Chicago day.

NBC Chicago day 2016
‘Chicago P.D.’ actor Jesse Lee Soffer during NBC Chicago day.

NBC Chicago day 2016
‘Chicago Fire’ actors Miranda Rae Mayo & Yuri Sardarov during a set demonstration for NBC Chicago day.

Chicago Fire
‘Chicago Fire’ actor Taylor Kinney during  NBC Chicago day.

 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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