Tamara Tunie

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Tamara Tunie
Tamara Tunie 2014 (cropped).jpg
Tunie in 2014
Born (1959-03-14) March 14, 1959 (age 64)
Other namesTamara Tunie Boquett
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (BFA)
Occupation(s)Actress, producer, director
Years active1981–present
Greg Bouquett
(m. 1988; div. 1991)
Gregory Generet
(m. 1995; div. 2018)

Tamara Tunie (born March 14, 1959) is an American film, stage, and television actress, director, and producer. She is best known for her roles as attorney Jessica Griffin on the CBS soap opera As the World Turns (1987–1995, 2000–2007, 2009) and as medical examiner Melinda Warner in the NBC police drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2000–2021).

Tunie has appeared in a number of movies, including Wall Street (1987), Rising Sun (1993), The Devil's Advocate (1997), Flight (2012), and A Journal for Jordan (2021). She received a Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female nomination for her performance in the 2001 drama film The Caveman's Valentine. In 2010, she made her directing debut with romantic comedy film See You in September. Tunie also received the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2007 for producing Spring Awakening and Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress in 2016 for Familiar.

Early life[edit]

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 in Musical Theatre from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[2][3] She was a contestant in the Miss Black Teenage Pageant in Pittsburgh in the early 1970s.[4]


Tunie made her Broadway debut alongside Lena Horne in Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music in 1981. From 1987 to 1995, she starred in the CBS daytime soap opera As the World Turns playing attorney Jessica Griffin.[5] She reprised the role from 2000 to 2007, receiving NAACP Image Awards nominations for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series in 2003 and 2004. In the 1990s. Tunie guest-starred in primetime dramas including Swift Justice, Law & Order, Chicago Hope, New York Undercover, and Sex and the City. She also had a recurring role as Lillian Fancy in the ABC police drama NYPD Blue from 1994 to 1997.

Tunie has had supporting roles in a number of movies. She made her film debut in Sweet Lorraine opposite Maureen Stapleton and later appeared in Wall Street (1987). 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).[6] Her other credits include Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989), Rising Sun (1993), Eve's Bayou (1997), The Peacemaker (1997), and Snake Eyes (1998). 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.[7]

In 2000, Tunie joined the cast of NBC police procedural series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as medical examiner Melinda Warner. She made her debut as Warner in the second-season episode titled "Noncompliance" and continued to make recurring appearances until Season 7, when she became a regular cast member. She also played this role in Law & Order: Trial by Jury in episode "Day" in 2005, and in the Chicago Fire episode "We Called Her Jellybean" in 2015. Tunie was regular on SVU from Season 7 to 12 and later made recurring appearances to Season 17. She later appeared in episodes in 2018 and 2019, totaling 223 credited episodes.

In 2002, Tunie played Alberta Green in the first season of the Fox thriller series 24. In 2010, she made her directing debut with romantic comedy film See You in September. In 2012, she returned to film, playing Margaret Thomason in the Robert Zemeckis-directed drama Flight starring Denzel Washington. From 2014 to 2015, she was regular cast member in the Sundance TV drama series The Red Road.

Tunie won a Tony Award in 2007 for the production of the Broadway musical Spring Awakening; she has also won a Drama Desk Award.[8][9] In 2016, she won an Obie Award for Distinguished Performance in Familiar, written by Danai Gurira.[10]

From 2016 to 2018, Tunie had a recurring role as Monica Graham in the CBS police drama series Blue Bloods. In 2018, she was regular cast member in two series, ABC comedy-drama Dietland and BBC Two/Netflix co-produced drama Black Earth Rising. In the latter she played Eunice Clayton, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.[11] Her other television credits include The Good Wife, Survivor's Remorse, Better Call Saul, and Almost Family.[12] Tunie also played Gugu Mbatha-Raw's mother in the 2018 romantic comedy-drama film Irreplaceable You.[13] In 2022, she appeared as Cissy Houston in the biographical drama film Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody directed by Kasi Lemmons.[14]

In 2022 she played Kamala Harris in The 47th at The Old Vic theatre in London.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Tunie was married to Greg Bouquett from 1988 to 1991. From 1995 to 2018, she was married to jazz musician Gregory Generet. They separated in 2015.[16]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Sweet Lorraine[17] 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, Reporter
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
2018 Her Only Choice Brenda
2021 A Journal for Jordan Penny Canedy
2022 Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody Cissy Houston


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Spenser: For Hire Nina Episode: "Shadowsight"
1987–2009 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)
2000–2021 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Dr. Melinda Warner Recurring (Seasons 2–6, 13–17, 19, 21-23)
Main (Seasons 7–12)
226 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 District Attorney 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
2017–2018 Better Call Saul Anita 3 episodes
2018 Dietland Julia Smith Main cast
2018 Black Earth Rising Assistant Secretary Eunice Clayton Main cast
2019–2020 Almost Family Genevieve Palmer Recurring role
2019 Emergence Maria Wilkis 2 episodes
2021-2022 See The Bank 6 episodes
2021 Cowboy Bebop Ana 6 episodes

As a director[edit]

Year Title Notes
2010 See You in September Director, producer

Awards and nominations[edit]

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 Nominated
2004 Nominated
2012 SLFCA Award Special Merit Flight Nominated
2013 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2016 Obie Awards Distinguished Performance Familiar Won


  1. ^ Varley, Teresa (2009). "Talking Steelers Football with Tamara Tunie". Steelers Digest. 22 (15): 25.
  2. ^ Maderer, Jason (May 28, 2020). "Tamara Tunie Elected to Board of Trustees". Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama. Retrieved February 8, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Tamara Tunie Biography (1959-)". Film Reference.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Tamara Tunie Biography". TVGuide.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "About the Actors | Tamara Tunie | As The World Turns". soapcentral.com.
  6. ^ "Tamara Tunie - Biography". tamaratunie.com. 2012-02-13. Archived from the original on 2012-02-13.
  7. ^ "Awards for Tamara Tunie". IMDb.
  8. ^ "Tamara Tunie: Biography". TV Guide.
  9. ^ "Tamara Tunie Awards". IMDb. June 2018.
  10. ^ "2016 Winners". Obie Awards.
  11. ^ White, Peter (April 30, 2018). "John Goodman & Michaela Coel To Star In Netflix & BBC Drama 'Black Earth Rising'". Deadline.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Wilson, Lori (September 24, 2019). "Brittany Snow, Tamara Tunie's Controversial Series 'Almost Family'". Soaps.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ O'Malley, Sheila (February 16, 2018). "Irreplaceable You movie review (2018)". www.rogerebert.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Silver, Carly. "Soap Alums Nafessa Williams And Tamara Tunie Cast in Whitney Houston Biopic". Daytime Confidential.
  15. ^ "The 47th". www.oldvictheatre.com. Retrieved 2022-08-26.
  16. ^ Finn, Natalie (February 3, 2015). "Law & Order: SVU's Tamara Tunie Separates From Husband Gregory Generet After 20 Years of Marriage". E! News. Retrieved August 19, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ Maslin, Janet (1987-05-01). "FILM: 'SWEET LORRAINE'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-01-12.

External links[edit]