Olga Merediz

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Olga Merediz
Olga Merediz (2021)
Born (1956-02-15) February 15, 1956 (age 67)
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materTulane University
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active1984–present
Known forAbuela Claudia in In the Heights
AwardsDrama Desk Award
HOLA Tespis Award

Olga Merediz[1][2] (born February 15, 1956) is an American actress and singer. Merediz originated the role of Abuela Claudia in the Broadway musical In the Heights, for which she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical. She played the role for the show's entire Broadway run, and reprised the role in the film adaptation.[3][4] Her television credits include NBC's 2016 series Shades of Blue and Netflix's Orange Is the New Black.

Early life[edit]

Merediz was born in Guantánamo, Cuba on February 15, 1956.[1][2] She left Cuba with her family when she was five years old to Miami, Florida.[5] Thereafter, she relocated with her family to Puerto Rico where she grew up.[5] Merediz graduated with a bachelor's degree from Newcomb College, the former female counterpart to Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.[5]


Film and television[edit]

Having made her film debut in 1984's The Brother from Another Planet, Merediz has since appeared in a number of films, including The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), City of Hope (1991), Evita (1996), Music of the Heart (1999), K-Pax (2001), Remember Me (2010), Custody (2016), Humor Me (2017), and the reprise of her 2008 Tony Award nominated Broadway role as Abuela Claudia, in the film adaptation In the Heights (2021). She also portrayed Alma Madrigal in Encanto (2021).

Her television credits, in both dramas and comedies, include recurring and guest roles in Diary of a Future President, New Amsterdam, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Orange Is the New Black and Madam Secretary. She has been a series regular in the UK television series Bounty Hunters and the comedy Saint George, has appeared in episodes of both Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU, and appeared as herself as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

Theatre and stage[edit]

In addition to In the Heights, her Broadway credits include Reckless at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Man of La Mancha, and Les Misérables. She also appeared as Rosie in Mamma Mia!.

Before they went to Broadway, Merediz starred in the Off-Broadway versions of In the Heights, and The Human Comedy. Some of her other Off-Broadway credits include Women without Men, The Haggadah, Lullabye and Goodnight, and The Blessing.

Additionally, Merediz was directed by John Cassavetes in a play called Thornhill.

Voice-over credits[edit]

Merediz has an extensive voice-over and narration portfolio, including the PBS Nature documentaries: Bears,[6] Hotel Armadillo,[7] Jungle Animal Hospital,[8] Nature's Miracle Orphans,[9] and Cuba: The Accidental Eden.[10] Her voice can be heard in numerous TV/radio commercials, Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego, Go!, Elena of Avalor, and Encanto.

She served as spokesperson for the MTA, New York City Transit Authority.[11]

Awards and nominations[edit]

At the 2008 Tony Awards, she received a nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for the Broadway incarnation of In the Heights.[12] In addition to her Tony Award nomination, Merediz won a 2007 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance for her role in the off-Broadway run of In the Heights, as well as a 2003 HOLA Tespis Award from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors.[13]

In 2013, Latina magazine named her as one of the 50 Best Latin Singers and Pop Stars of All Time. According to the magazine, "The Cuban Broadway star knows how to dominate a live stage and owns it!"[14]


Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
1984 The Brother from Another Planet Noreen's Client
1988 The Milagro Beanfield War Milagro Townsperson
1990 Q&A Mrs. Valentin
1991 City of Hope Nidia
The Super Female #2
1992 Boomerang Guard
1994 Angie Roz
1995 Drunks Chairwoman
1996 Evita Bianca Duarte
Marvin's Room Beauty Shop Lady
1997 States of Control Purse-snatched Woman
White Lies Woman #1 in Window
1999 Things I Forgot to Remember Carmela
Music of the Heart Ms. Olivas
2000 Isn't She Great Mrs. Ramirez
Center Stage ABA Receptionist
Requiem for a Dream Malin & Block Secretary
2001 K-PAX Transit Officer
2002 Changing Lanes Mrs. Miller
Apartment 5C Jenny
2004 Imaginary Heroes Maria Uncredited
2006 A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Aunt Mary
2010 Remember Me Aidan's Professor
2011 Mr. Popper's Penguins Nanny
Trouble in the Heights Gloria
2012 One for the Money Rosa Gomez
The Place Beyond the Pines Malena Gutierrez
2014 The Angriest Man in Brooklyn Jane
Top Five Chelsea's Mom
Like Sunday, Like Rain Esa
Fugly! Moms
2016 Custody Joyce
Urge Esthetician
America Adrift Sorida
2017 The Light of the Moon Mariana
Humor Me Fortune Teller
2019 Fair Market Value Missy Goya
2020 Godmothered Beth
2021 In the Heights Abuela Claudia
Encanto Abuela Alma Madrigal (singing voice)
2023 Somebody I Used to Know Joanne "Jojo"


Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Cosby Show Mrs. Rodriguez Episode: "Mr. Quiet"
1986 Another World Dolores 1 episode
1987 Leg Work Nuse Episode: "Things That Go Bump in the Night"
1987–95 ABC Afterschool Special Mrs. Mathias / Dr. Montoya 2 episodes
1988–89 Tattingers Nanette 2 episodes
1989 Baby Cakes Check-out Girl TV movie
1991–2009 Law & Order Various 6 episodes
1995 Central Park West Anne 2 episodes
1996 The Sunshine Boys Sue TV movie
2000 The Sopranos Fran Episode: "Bust Out"
2001 The Job Yolanda Sommeriba Episode: "Anger"
Third Watch Judge Episode: "He Said/She Said"
2002 George Lopez Aunt Cecilia Episode: "Who's Your Daddy?"
Law & Order: Criminal Intent Mrs. Martinez Episode: "Best Defense"
2003 Dora the Explorer Maestra Beatriz (voice) Episode: "School Pet"
Hope & Faith Gloria 3 episodes
2003–21 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Veronica Nash / Judge Roberta Martinez 6 episodes
2004 The Jury Leticia Schikert 2 episodes
2005 Go, Diego, Go! Mrs. Marquez (voice) Episode: "Diego Saves the Humpback Whale"
2009 Au Pair 3: Adventure in Paradise Teresa TV movie
Royal Pains Esperanza Episode: "If I Were a Sick Man"
2010 Past Life Carmen Santos Episode: "Pilot"
2011 Blue Bloods Inez Episode: "My Funny Valentine"
Pan Am Mrs. Rodriguez Episode: "Unscheduled Departure"
2014 Saint George Alma Lopez 10 episodes
2014–19 Orange Is the New Black Lourdes 6 episodes
2015 Alternatino Mother Episode: "Respect Your Mother"
2016 Madam Secretary Rep. Elle Vazquez Episode: "Breakout Capacity"
2016–17 Shades of Blue Lorena Zepeda 3 episodes
2017 The Breaks Episode: "Blind Alley"
Bounty Hunters Maria 5 episodes
2017–18 Stuck in the Middle Abuela 2 episodes
2017–19 Brooklyn Nine-Nine Julia Diaz 2 episodes
2018–19 New Amsterdam Warden Gloria Salazar 2 episodes
2019 Elena of Avalor Felicia (voice) Episode: "Flower of Light"
2019–20 Bull Judge Ollis 2 episodes
2020–21 Diary of a Future President Francisca 2 episodes
2022 Blockbuster Connie Serrano Main role; 10 episodes


Year Show Role Notes
1982 Lullabye and Goodnight Saint Off-Broadway
1984 The Human Comedy Mexican Woman Broadway
1987 Les Misérables Female Ensemble/Madame Thénardier Understudy Broadway (Replacement)
2001 Mamma Mia! Rosie Broadway (Replacement)
2002 Man of La Mancha The Housekeeper Broadway Revival
2004 Reckless Trish/Woman Patient Broadway
2008 In the Heights Abuela Claudia Broadway
Nominated—Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical


Charted songs[edit]

List of charted songs, with year released, selected chart positions, and album name shown
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album

"The Family Madrigal"
(with Stephanie Beatriz and Encanto cast)
2021 20 40 31 18 7 7 20 Encanto
"All of You"
(with Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, Adassa, Maluma, and Encanto cast)
71 83 111
"—" denotes songs which were not released in that country or did not chart.


  1. ^ a b Willis, John (1995). Theatre World 1992-1993. p. 207. ISBN 9781557832030.
  2. ^ a b "Olga Merediz | Biography and Filmography | 1956". Hollywood.com. 6 February 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  3. ^ Gans, Andrew (October 27, 2010). "In the Heights to Close on Broadway in January; Miranda to Return to Cast". Playbill. Archived from the original on 2010-12-01. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  4. ^ Jones, Kenneth (January 9, 2011). "Lights Out: In the Heights Ends Broadway Run Jan. 9; Tour Continues and Film Is in the Wings". Playbill. Archived from the original on 2011-01-11. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c Freshley, Catherine. "Tulane University - Balance and Ambition". Tulane University. Archived from the original on 29 April 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  6. ^ Bears
  7. ^ Hotel Armadillo
  8. ^ Jungle Animal Hospital
  9. ^ Nature's Miracle Orphans
  10. ^ Cuba: The Accidental Eden
  11. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (20 March 1994). "F.Y.I." The New York Times. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  12. ^ Soltes, John. "Growing old with Olga Merediz in the new musical, ‘In the Heights’"[permanent dead link]. The Leader. June 19, 2008.
  13. ^ The Broadway League. "Olga Merediz | Awards and Nominations". IBDB.
  14. ^ "Music". LATINA. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  15. ^ Song peaks in the US (Billboard Hot 100):
  16. ^ "Discography Olga Merediz". australian-charts.com. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  17. ^ Discography - singles peaks in Canada:
  18. ^ "Discography Olga Merediz". irishcharts.com. Retrieved February 11, 2022.
  19. ^ Peaks on the NZ Heatseeker Singles Chart:
    • "The Family Madrigal": "NZ Hot Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. January 10, 2022. Retrieved January 22, 2022.
  20. ^ Discography - singles peaks in the UK (Official Charts):
  21. ^ "Billboard Global 200: Week of February 12, 2022". Billboard. February 12, 2022. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  22. ^ "American certifications – Olga Merediz – The Family Madrigal". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  23. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2022 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  24. ^ a b "British certifications – Merediz". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 16, 2023. Type Merediz in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]