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Tamara Tunie (born March 14, 1959) is an American film, stage, and television actress, director, and producer. She is best known for her portrayal of attorney Jessica Griffin on the CBS soap opera As the World Turns and of medical examiner Melinda Warner on the NBC police drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. From 2000 to 2017, in 2018, and briefly in 2009 and 2010, she appeared on both series simultaneously (Tunie returned to Law and Order: Special Victims Unit for one episode in 2018). In 2018, she also played the role of Eunice Clayton, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, in Black Earth Rising, a television drama series co-produced by BBC Two and Netflix and which aired in the United States in January 2019. Tunie has also appeared in film, most notably playing the key supporting role of Margaret Thomason in Flight (2012).

Tamara Tunie
Tamara Tunie 2014 (cropped).jpg
Tunie in 2014
Born (1959-03-14) March 14, 1959 (age 60)
Other namesTamara Tunie Boquett
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (BFA)
OccupationActress, producer, director
Years active1986–present


Early life and educationEdit

Tunie was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania and grew up in Homestead,[1] the daughter of Evelyn (née Hawkins) and James W. Tunie. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.[2]


In addition to her roles on As the World Turns, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, she is known for her recurring roles as Lillian Fancy in NYPD Blue (1994–1997) and Alberta Green in the first season of Fox's 24. Tunie also guest-starred in many television series, including Spenser: For Hire, Tribeca, SeaQuest DSV, New York Undercover, Swift Justice, Feds, Chicago Hope, Sex and the City, and the Law & Order: Trial by Jury episode, "Survivor's Remorse".

Tunie worked twice with Al Pacino; she portrayed his press secretary in the film City Hall (1996) and the possessed wife of a partner in his law firm in the film The Devil's Advocate (1997).[3] Her other film credits include Wall Street (1987), Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989), Rising Sun (1993), Eve's Bayou (1997), and The Peacemaker (1997).

In 2001, she received a nomination for the Independent Spirit Awards for her role in film The Caveman's Valentine, based on George Dawes Green's eponymous novel, opposite Samuel L. Jackson.[4] She won a Tony Award in 2007 for the production of the Broadway musical Spring Awakening; she has also won a Drama Desk Award.[5][6]

In 2016, she won an Obie Award for Distinguished Performance in Familiar by Danai Gurira.[7]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Sweet Lorraine Julie
1987 Wall Street Carolyn
1989 Bloodhounds of Broadway Cynthia Harris
1993 Rising Sun Lauren Smith
1996 City Hall Leslie Christos
1996 Rescuing Desire Van
1996 Quentin Carr Detective Short film
1997 Spirit Lost Anne
1997 Eve's Bayou Narrator (voice)
1997 The Peacemaker Jody
1997 The Devil's Advocate Mrs. Jackie Heath
1998 Snake Eyes Anthea
2001 The Caveman's Valentine Sheila Ledbetter
2007 AfterLife Nicole Short film
2012 Missed Connections Felicity Gray
2012 Flight Margaret Thomason
2014 The Power of Our Presence Narrator (voice) Short film
2014 Fall to Rise Annika
2016 Bad Vegan and the Teleportation Machine Josephine Bodder
2018 Irreplaceable You Jane


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Spenser: For Hire Nina Episode: "Shadowsight"
As the World Turns Jessica Griffin Contract role
1993 Tribeca Pretoria "Tori" Thomas Episodes: "The Box", "Honor", "The Rainmaker"
1994–1997 NYPD Blue Lillian Fancy Recurring role
1995 seaQuest DSV Laura Episode: "The Siamese Dream"
1995 New York Undercover Janice Episode: "Bad Girls"
1996 Swift Justice Jessie McKenna Episode: "Bad Medicine"
1996 Law & Order Caroline Bennett Episode: "Deadbeat"
1996 Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat" Manigault Miss Marcus Television film
1997 Feds Martha Kershan Episode: "Missing Pieces"
1997 Chicago Hope Lennie Gaghan Episode: "Leggo My Ego"
1998 New York Undercover Lana Brooks Episode: "Sign o' the Times"
1999 Sex and the City Eileen Episode: "The Cheating Curve" (Season 2 Episode 6)
2000–2018 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Dr. Melinda Warner Recurring (seasons 2–6 and 13–17) (& season 19)
Main (seasons 7–12)
170 episodes
2002 24 Alberta Green Recurring role (season 1)
2003 Nefertiti Resurrected Narrator Television documentary
2005 Law & Order: Trial by Jury Dr. Melinda Warner Episode: "Day"
2011 Days of Our Lives Judge Weston 2 episodes
2013 The Good Wife Serafina Norvy Episode: "Boom De Yah Da"
2013 Golden Boy Mrs. Nevel Episode: "Scapegoat"
2014 Alpha House Eve Bettencourt / Eve Simone-Lewis 2 episodes
2014–2015 The Red Road Marie Van Der Veen Main role
2015 Captain Blackout Jessica Winters Television film
2015 Chicago Fire Dr. Melinda Warner Episode: "We Called Her Jellybean"
2015 Zoo Brenda Montgomery Episode: "First Blood"
2015 Survivor's Remorse D.A. Sandra Knowles Episode: "A Time to Punch"
2016 Elementary Lily Cooper Episode: "Alma Matters"
2016 Billions Amelia Episode: "YumTime"
2016–2018 Blue Bloods Monica Graham Recurring role
2017–present Better Call Saul Anita 3 episodes
2018 Dietland Julia Smith Main cast
2018 Black Earth Rising Assistant Secretary Eunice Clayton Main cast

As a directorEdit

Year Title Notes
2010 See you in September Director, producer

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1995 Soap Opera Digest Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress As the World Turns Nominated
2002 Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Female The Caveman's Valentine Nominated
2003 Soap Opera Digest Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress As the World Turns Nominated
2003 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series As the World Turns Nominated
2004 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series As the World Turns Nominated
2012 SLFCA Award Special Merit Flight Nominated
2013 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress Flight Nominated
2016 Obie Awards Distinguished Performance Familiar Won


  1. ^ Varley, Teresa (2009). "Talking Steelers Football with Tamara Tunie". Steelers Digest. 22 (15): 25.
  2. ^ "Tamara Tunie Biography (1959-)". film reference.
  3. ^ "Tamara Tunie - Biography". 2012-02-13.
  4. ^ "Awards for Tamara Tunie". IMDb.
  5. ^ "Tamara Tunie: Biography". TV Guide.
  6. ^ "Tamara Tunie Awards". IMDb. June 2018.
  7. ^ "2016 Winners". Obie Awards.

External linksEdit