Merle Dandridge (born May 31, 1975) is a Japanese-born American actress and singer who performed in a number of stage productions, including Broadway musicals Jesus Christ Superstar, Spamalot, and Rent. She is widely known for her role as Alyx Vance in Half-Life 2. Dandridge is also known for her recurring role on television series such as Sons of Anarchy and The Night Shift. In 2016, she began starring as Grace Greenleaf in the Oprah Winfrey Network drama series, Greenleaf. She played Papa Ge in the 2017 revival of Once on this Island, until January 8, 2018, so she could shoot her television show Greenleaf.
Dandridge was born in Okinawa, Japan. Her mother was a local Okinawan of Korean descent and her father was an African American U.S. serviceman from Memphis. As well as Okinawa, Dandridge has lived outside of Wheatland, California, at Beale Air Force Base and later at Offutt Air Force Base (home to the then-Strategic Air Command) in Bellevue, Nebraska, where she spent the majority of her childhood. She attended Papillion La Vista High School and participated in the play production class and theater department there. She then attended the Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University (currently called the Chicago College of Performing Arts).
Dandridge began her career appearing in Chicago theatre productions. She has gained a wider audience as the voice of Alyx Vance in the award-winning action game Half-Life 2 and its sequels, Episode One and Episode Two, and also as Marlene in The Last of Us. Dandridge earned a BAFTA Award for her voiceover performance in the 2015 game Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. On television, she guest starred on NCIS, 24, Criminal Minds, The Newsroom and Drop Dead Diva. In 2012, she was cast in a series regular role as Chief in the NBC drama series Chicago Fire. Dandridge also had the recurring roles in the FX drama series, Sons of Anarchy as Rita Roosevelt, and short-lived The CW teen soap Star-Crossed in 2014. In 2015, she co-starred in the second season of NBC medical drama, The Night Shift as Gwen Gaskin.
In 2015, Dandridge was cast as lead character in the Oprah Winfrey Network drama series, Greenleaf opposite Lynn Whitfield. She plays the role of Grace Greenleaf, Greenleaf's estranged daughter. Dandridge has received critical acclaim for her first leading screen role.
Dandridge starred as Papa Ge the God of death in the Broadway musical revival of Once on This Island, at the Circle in the Square Theater from Nov 9th 2017 to Jan 7th, 2018.  She returned to the role of Papa Ge in a limited run from June 18 to August 19, 2018.
Television and film
|2003||The Edge||Agent Angela Wells||Pilot|
|2003||NCIS||Marcy Carruthers||Episode: "Sea Dog"|
|2005||Third Watch||Nikki||Episode: "Too Little, Too Late"|
|2005||All My Children||Lois||Recurring role|
|2005||Guiding Light||Lawyer||Episode: "July 21, 2005"|
|2007||I'm Paige Wilson||Gloria||Pilot|
|2008||Nothing But The Truth||Celia|
|2010||The Deep End||Jennifer Hutchins||Episode: "An Innocent Man"|
|2010||24||Kristen Smith||Episode: "Day 8, 12:00am– 1:00am"|
|2010||CSI: Miami||Stacy Garrett||Episode: "Sleepless In Miami"|
|2011||Lie to Me||D.A. Jill Ottinger||Episode: "Saved"|
|2011||Love Bites||Krista||Episode: "How To..."|
|2011||Ringer||Dr. Anabel Morris||Episode: "Shut Up and Eat Your Bologna"|
|2012||Criminal Minds||Agent Lynn Brooks||Episode: "A Family Affair"|
|2011–12||Sons of Anarchy||Rita Roosevelt||Recurring role, 6 episodes|
|2012–13||The Newsroom||Maria Guerrero||Episodes: "Amen" and "One Step Too Many"|
|2014||The Mentalist||Lydia Faulk||Episode: "Il Tavolo Bianco"|
|2014||Star-Crossed||Vega||Recurring role, 7 episodes|
|2014||Drop Dead Diva||Nadine Comer||Episode: "Afterlife"|
|2014||Stalker||Dean Lisa Miner||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2014||NCIS: Los Angeles||CIA Officer Nicole Borders||Episode: "Reign Fall"|
|2015||Perception||Robyn Sherman||Episode: "Meat"|
|2015–16||The Night Shift||Gwen Gaskin||Recurring role, 15 episodes|
|2015||Rosewood||Charlotte||Episode: "Vitamins and Vandals"|
|2016–present||Greenleaf||Grace Greenleaf||Lead role|
|2018||Murphy Brown||Diana Macomber||Episode: "Three Shirts to the Wind"|
|1994||Once on this Island||Performer||Chicago, IL|
|1994||The Robber Bridegroom||Rosamund||Roosevelt University Chicago, IL|
|1994||As You Like It||Rosalind||Roosevelt University Chicago, IL|
|1997||Balm in Gilead||Ann||Gilead Theatre Chicago, IL|
|1997||The Kentucky Cycle||Performer||Truman College (Chicago, IL)|
|1997||Sweet and Hot||Performer||Theatre Building Chicago, IL|
|1998||Heart and Soul||Andrea||Chicago, IL|
|1998||Richard II||Performer||Gilead Theatre Co. Chicago, IL|
|1998||Ain't Misbehavin'||European Tour|
|1998||Smokey Joe's Cafe||Swing||National Tour|
|2000||Jesus Christ Superstar||Mary Magdalene||Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Broadway|
|2002||Aida||Aida (Replacement)||Palace Theatre, Broadway|
|2002–08||Rent||Joanne Jefferson (Replacement)||Nederlander Theatre, Broadway|
|2003||Showtune: Celebrating the Words & Music of Jerry Herman||Woman 2||Pasadena Playhouse Pasadena, CA|
|2006–07||Tarzan||Kala||Richard Rodgers Theatre, Broadway|
|2008||Spamalot||The Lady of the Lake||Shubert Theatre, Broadway|
|2009–10||Rent||Joanne||USA National Tour|
|2015||Spamalot||The Lady of the Lake||Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles|
|2017–18||Once on This Island||Papa Ge||Circle in the Square Theatre, Broadway|
|2004||Half-Life 2||Alyx Vance|
|2006||Half-Life 2: Episode One||Alyx Vance|
|2007||Half-Life 2: Episode Two||Alyx Vance|
|2007||The Orange Box||Alyx Vance||Compilation|
|2013||The Last of Us||Marlene|
|2013||Dota 2||Legion Commander
|2015||Everybody's Gone to the Rapture||Kate Collins||Won BAFTA for Best Performer|
|2016||Uncharted 4: A Thief's End||Evelyn
Awards and nominations
|2019||Grammy Award||Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album||Once on This Island||Nominated|
- The Broadway League. "Merle Dandridge - IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "DIVA TALK: Chatting with Spamalot's Merle Dandridge Plus Betty Buckley at Birdland". Playbill. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Merle Dandridge Lands Role on NBC Pilot Chicago Fire". Retrieved 21 June 2016.
- Vlada Gelman. "'The Night Shift' Season 2 Cast — Merle Dandridge as Jordan's Best Friend - TVLine". TVLine. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- Denise Petski. "Lynn Whitfield, Merle Dandridge & Desiree Ross Join 'Greenleaf' - Deadline". Deadline. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- Tambay A. Obenson (24 August 2015). "Lynn Whitfield, Merle Dandridge and Desiree Ross Cast in - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- Ryan, Maureen (17 June 2016). "TV Review: 'Greenleaf'". Retrieved 21 June 2016.
- "Meet Merle Dandridge, the 'Greenleaf' leading lady picked by Oprah". Retrieved 21 June 2016.
- "5 Reasons to Watch Oprah Winfrey's New Series 'Greenleaf'". ABC News. 21 June 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
- "Person List". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
- "61st Annual GRAMMY Awards". GRAMMY.com. 2018-12-06. Retrieved 2019-02-10.