Merle Dandridge (born May 31, 1975) is an 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 the Half Life 2 game. 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 was the actor for Papa Ge in the 2017 revival of Once on this Island, until January 8, 2018, so she could shoot her television show Greenleaf.
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Merle Dandridge was born in Okinawa, Japan to a Japanese mother and an African-American father. Her father was in the air force and she moved from Okinawa to Sacramento, California to Bellevue, Nebraska (where she spent most of her childhood) as a young child. Merle attended Papillion LaVista High School and earned a scholarship to the Chicago Music College. While in college, Merle and two friends decided to try and start their own production company - named Gilead. Merle loved doing this and found her passion, acting. She preformed in various plays around the Chicago area for a few years until graduation, when she packed up and moved to New York City.
Merle began working as a waitress. She did a summer session at a public theater and that led to roles in the national tour of Smokey Joe`s Cafe and the European tour of Ain`t Misbehavin`. Before leave for Europe, Merle auditioned for the Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar and was cast as a Soul Girl/Disciple - her Broadway debut. She then played the second Aida in the Disney Broadway musical Aida.
Merle moved to L.A. to start a successful career in television. She appeared in Angel, NCIS, The Edge, and numerous commercials. She was approached to do vocals for the video game Half Life 2 and worked on that for several years.
In late 2004, Merle moved back to NYC. She played the role of Joanne Jefferson in RENT until early 2006 and continues to work for various TV stations. She left RENT for a year to work on another show, but loved it so much, she could not resist coming back. She has been hailed by many as being "the best Joanne since Fredi Walker (the original Joanne)." Merle is currently playing Kaia, the mother gorilla, in Disney`s latest Broadway musical - Tarzan. Her vocals can be heard on the soundtrack.
She started in Spamalot on Broadway on September 2 2008 playing the part of the Lady of the Lake.
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Papillion LaVista High School
Chicago Music College
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