Merle Dandridge on Getting Her First Lead Role in a TV Drama

Season 1
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For actress Merle Dandridge, Greenleaf is a breakthrough. Merle has starred on Broadway and had many supporting roles on television. Nonetheless, Oprah points out in this exclusive interview, there's nothing like getting a call for a lead role. In OWN's new mega-church drama, Merle plays Grace Greenleaf, the prodigal daughter of the wealthy Greenleaf family and one of the series' key characters.

"Honestly, I never could have even fathomed that that would have been my life, and yet here it is, I'm here," Merle says. "I just don't have words for that. It's a dream come true, but a dream I didn't even know that I had in a role that I didn't know that I was so meant to play. I really feel that."

The moment Merle read the script, she knew she wanted the role. "When I went in and I first embraced that character, it just felt like stepping right into the waters that I already knew, that I already understood," she says. "It was a thrill. It was a ride I really wanted to take."

Additionally, Merle says, the first time she was in a scene with the full cast, she knew this would be something special. "I knew that I was going to learn from these people, that I was going to grow from them and that I was going to come out on the other side even better than I could have even dreamed."

Tune in for the two-night season premiere on Tuesday, June 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, and Wednesday, June 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT and 10 p.m. ET/PT. The remaining episodes will air regularly on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.