From: Papillion, Nebraska: LA Opera: Penelope (2023, debut).
Merle Dandridge most recently starred as Desiree Armfeldt in the critically acclaimed production of A Little Night Music at the Pasadena Playhouse. Most recently on screen, Merle reprised her role of Marlene, leader of the fireflies in HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us, based on Naughty Dog's video game of the same name. She can also currently be seen as Chief Ross in ABC’s Station 19 and as Zarina Killebrew in Apple TV+’s Truth Be Told. Merle starred as Grace Greenleaf in Oprah Winfrey’s hit series Greenleaf, which ran for five seasons. Other television includes HBO’s The Flight Attendant, FX’s Sons of Anarchy, CW’s Starcrossed and NBC’s The Night Shift.
In the video game space, she is known for Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II as Marlene, the leader of Fireflies, Evelyn and the Nun in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Legion Commander and Winter Wyvern in Dota 2, Alyx Vance in Half-Life 2 and Katherine Collins in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, for which she won the 2016 BAFTA for “Best Performer.”
Born in Japan, raised in Nebraska, and schooled in Chicago at Roosevelt University, Dandridge began her acting career with leading roles on Broadway in Spamalot (Lady of the Lake), Rent (Joanne), Aida (Aida), Tarzan (Kala) and Jesus Christ Superstar. More recently, Merle took on the role of Pharaoh in the Manhattan Concert Productions’ presentation of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Lincoln Center. She is also the first woman to play the role of Papa Ge in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Once on This Island, which received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Musical Theater Album. She has toured the U.S. and Europe six times and has been featured in several regional theater productions (including multiple stints at the Geffen Playhouse and the Pasadena Playhouse). She has also performed at Tthe Hollywood Bowl, Boston Pops, and at Royal Albert Hall.
Merle serves on the board of directors of the Geffen Playhouse and Harvest Home, which provides housing and holistic support to homeless pregnant women.
Photo: Wes Klain