Afrobella of the Week: Tamara Tunie

When did NBC become my favorite channel? I’ll admit I was skeptical when the American version of The Office began, but from perhaps the second or third episode when they stopped relying on jokes from the British version so much, it became my favorite show on television bar none. (I’m so much of a fan that I’m MySpace friends with Pam and Angela, and I addictively read their online blogs about the on-set antics). My Thursday night belongs to Comedy Night Done Right, and I look forward all week to Earl, The Office, Scrubs, and 30 Rock.

But Thursdays aren’t the only reason that I love NBC. Tuesday night belongs to my favorite television drama.

That’s right, bellas – I’m a bonafide Law & Order SVU junkie. I’m pretty sure that I first turned to the show as a recovering Oz addict, seeking a Chris Meloni fix. (Seriously, wasn’t he one of the hottest guys on that show, or what?)

But Law and Order SVU sucked me into the storyline like no other Law and Order series has.

I just love the cast – Mariska Hargitay is fearless and real, Meloni is noble yet vulnerable, Ice-T and Richard Belzer can always be counted on for an awesome one-liner and some crucial evidence mysteriously uncovered in the other room. And then there’s Tamara Tunie as Dr. Melinda Warner, the medical examiner with a heart of gold and an eye for detail.

She can usually be found standing next to a flayed corpse, explaining the victim’s apparent cause of death to Detectives Benson and Stabler. Apparently her expertise comes from a lifetime of experience — her mother was a mortician, her father worked as an undertaker, and she was raised in a funeral home.

In earlier episodes Dr. Warner mostly wore her hair straight and scraped back in a professional ponytail or bun, but these days she’s been rocking the curls and her locks are some of the most gorgeous on television.

I’m not a soap opera watcher, so I had no idea that Tamara Tunie does double duty on both SVU and As The World Turns. She’s been nominated twice for the NAACP Image Award as Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series. She is considered one of the most capable actresses in the biz, and according to this 2005 Ebony article,  she is one of today’s busiest actresses.

On Broadway she has acted opposite Denzel Washington in a production of Julius Ceasar, and shared the stage with Lena Horne to perform in The Lady and Her Music. It appears that her last name isn’t a misnomer – Tamara can carry a tune! She appears on this benefit performance Dreamgirls in Concert CD and holds her own alongside the likes of Heather Headley and Audra McDonald.
I’ve never heard her sing, but apparently I’ve seen her act before — she costarred along Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves in The Devil’s Advocate, made appearances on Sex and the City and 24, and was the narrator of Eve’s Bayou.

She’s been with the cast of Law and Order SVU since 2000, and I sincerely hope she doesn’t leave. There’s no sign of the show being cancelled anytime soon, so here’s hoping we get to see more of Dr. Warner repping for brainy, beautiful, curly-haired chicks every Tuesday night.

Congrats, Tamara! You’re Afrobella of the Week!

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  1. I love Law and Order:SVU I’m such a junkie that I will sit and watch the marathons on USA. I love her hair as well it’s absolutely gorgeous. It reminds me a little of the black lady on ER the one who is HIV-positive (in the older episodes).

  2. i so love Law and Order, anything Dick Wolf touches is gold. if you can catch some of the earlier episodes you can catch the absolutely hot Mr. Big(Chris Noth).Tamara’s hair looks so unfussed and natural.

  3. jerseybred says:

    I love Tamara Tunie, her role on Law & Order is the ish… I find myself looking for natural hair everywhere I go.

  4. I too have a huge crush on Christopher Meloni, I loved him in OZ as well I watch reruns of both his shows and I think I would watch any show he does in the future.

  5. I’ve liked Tamara since the days when I watched her on As The World Turns. I had no idea of her role on Law and Order, but I remember when she was on Isaac Mizrahi’s talk show talking about growing up in a funeral home. Guess I’ll have to start watching L&O again!

  6. I also saw her on Isaac. And I also had a crush on Meloni.

  7. I just watched Eve’s Bayou the other day & though the narrator was Lynn Whitfield, go figure. I first saw her in the Devil’s Advocate where she scared the hell out of me LOL.

    I think her character in SVU is very strong & admirable. There was one episode about 2 years ago that I will never forget when she was performing an autopsy “dancer” & she told Elliott that the chick was covered in booty dust. I was like how in the world does this Dr know what booty dust is; that cracked me up


  8. I have loved Tamara Tunie since her days as attorney “Jessica” on As the World Turns. When her character was allowed to (literally and figuratively) “let her hair down”, she was at her best. I recently saw an episode of some decorating show, where people came in and decorated her and her hsband’s brownstowne for a fundraising party. Beautiful house and beautiful lady!

  9. Nice to meet another SVU junkie. Welcome to the fam!! And yes, I also luv Tamara Tunie.

  10. How fun to see props given to Tamara Tunie! I don’t even have a TV anymore, but I know she was one of those long-recurring L&O characters that appeared for years and then finally got her name in the opening credits. That is the best-cast show on television. Bella, you’re the best!

  11. Aww, thanks Girl Stop! By the way, if you’re wondering why your comments never show up right away, it’s because they always get stuck in the spam filter. Not sure if it’s your e mail address or the website that you use, but I always go into the spam folder and fish them out.

    SVU’s on tonight, yay!

  12. another show that is so funny is Arrested Development, it was on the Fox network but has been canceled you can find it on cable channels though.

  13. Tamara Tunie is indeed worthy of Bella of the Week. She is a natural beauty, a great actress and who knew her formative years was preparation for her role in one of my favorite shows EVER–SVU! I can’t understand why she’s not featured more often than the occasional appearance in a trial.

  14. Opera Junkie says:

    I just love ATWT and have loved Tunie’s Jessica Griffin for years. So glad Tunie is getting her props. I just heard though that she is leaving the soaps after 20 years!! So sad but I hope she returns! I will have to start watching L&O. What a fabulously talented and beautiful star.

  15. Tamara Fan says:

    Tamara Tunie is definitely one of the most beautiful women on TV. Her beauty seems effortless and her talent seem endless. And she just gets more attractive with age …

  16. i’ve been a fan of tamara’s for many years, starting with atwt. she’s been on the show long enough to have a grown daughter on the show. i was excited when she joined the law and order family. she’s great!

  17. Can I just state the obvious here. Two big films this year about women and aimed at women and both were directed by men and both didn’t live up to the hype.

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