Olga Merediz

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Olga Merediz
Born (1956-02-15) February 15, 1956 (age 65)
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. Merediz originated the role of Abuela Claudia in the Broadway musical In the Heights, for which she received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical. She played the role for the show's entire Broadway run, and will reprise 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]

Merediz’s motion picture credits include Custody, Humor Me, Top Five, The Place Beyond the Pines, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Remember Me, K-Pax, Apartment 5-C, Trouble in the Heights, Like Sunday, Like Rain, Fugly!, Requiem for a Dream, Angie, Evita, and Changing Lanes. She worked with Meryl Streep in both Marvin's Room and Music of the Heart, and with Sidney Lumet in Q&A. Robert Redford directed her in The Milagro Beanfield War.[6]

Her television credits include Diary of a Future President for Disney+, NBC's drama New Amsterdam, comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bull, and Shades of Blue. On Netflix, she recurs in four seasons of Orange Is the New Black. In Madam Secretary for CBS, Merediz portrayed the role of Congresswoman Elle Vasquez. Merediz is a series regular in the UK television series Bounty Hunters playing the part of Maria. In 2014, Merediz joined the cast of the George Lopez-starring FX series, Saint George, playing Alma, Lopez's mother. Her other television credits are Royal Pains, Blue Bloods, Pan Am, Law & Order: SVU, The Sopranos, The Job, The George Lopez Show, Third Watch, Law & Order, and 100 Centre Street.[6] She had recurring roles in both The Jury and Hope & Faith. Merediz also appeared on the pilot episode of the FOX TV series Past Life, as well as an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay as a judge.

Theatre and stage[edit]

In addition to In the Heights, 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,[7] Hotel Armadillo,[8] Jungle Animal Hospital,[9] Nature's Miracle Orphans,[10] and Cuba: The Accidental Eden.[11] Her voice can be heard in numerous TV/radio commercials, Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego! Go! and Elena of Avalor.

She served as spokesperson for the MTA, New York City Transit Authority.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14]

In 2013, Latina magazine named her as one of the 50 Best Latin Singers and Pop Stars of All Time. As per the magazine, "The Cuban Broadway star knows how to dominate a live stage and owns it!"[15]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 The Brother from Another Planet Noreen's Client
1988 The Milagro Beanfield War Milagro Townsperson
1989 Baby Cakes Check-out Girl TV Movie
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
2009 Au Pair 3: Adventure in Paradise Teresa TV Movie
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
2021 In the Heights Abuela Claudia Post-production


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


  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. "In the Heights to Close on Broadway in January; Miranda to Return to Cast" Archived 2010-12-01 at the Wayback Machine. Playbill.
  4. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "In the Heights Ends Broadway Run Jan. 9; Tour Continues and Film Is in the Wings" Archived 2011-01-11 at the Wayback Machine.playbill.com, January 9, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Freshley, Catherine. "Tulane University - Balance and Ambition". Tulane University. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (2013-12-13). "Nia Long To Co-Star In WEtv Drama 'The Divide', Shaun Toub Added To NBC Pilot 'Tin Man', Olga Merediz Joins FX's 'Saint George'". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  7. ^ Bears
  8. ^ Hotel Armadillo
  9. ^ Jungle Animal Hospital
  10. ^ Nature's Miracle Orphans
  11. ^ Cuba: The Accidental Eden
  12. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (20 March 1994). "F.Y.I." The New York Times. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  13. ^ Soltes, John. "Growing old with Olga Merediz in the new musical, ‘In the Heights’". The Leader. June 19, 2008.
  14. ^ The Broadway League. "Olga Merediz | Awards and Nominations". IBDB.
  15. ^ "Music". LATINA. Retrieved 2017-08-12.

External links[edit]