Greenleaf Star Merle Dandridge Shares Her Haute Secrets to LA

Merle Dandridge Photo Credit: Theo and Juliet

Merle Dandridge is a name you need to know. Dandridge was hand-plucked by Oprah Winfrey to star in Lady O’s OWN Network/Lionsgate TV series, “Greenleaf,” which premiered earlier this summer.
The series revolves around the Memphis world of the Greenleaf family and their beyond scandalous secrets and lies  with scandalous secrets and lies, and their sprawling Memphis megachurch. Merle plays Grace Greenleaf, the protagonist of the series, which also stars Keith David as Bishop James Greenleaf, and Lynn Whitfield as his wife and matriarch of the family, Lady Mae Greenleaf, as their estranged daughter who has returned home after 20 years following the mysterious death of her sister, Faith.
This is Merle’s first starring role, but she has also appeared on series such as FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”, CW’s “Starcrossed” and NBC’s “The Night Shift”. Other television credits include “Suits”, “Rosewood”, “NCIS: Los Angeles”, “The Mentalist”, “The Newsroom”, “Criminal Minds” and ‘CSI: Miami”.
She began her acting career with leading roles on Broadway in “Spamalot” (Lady of the Lake), “Rent” (Joanne), “Aida” (Aida) and “Tarzan” (Kala). She has toured the U.S. and Europe 6 times, been featured in several regional theatre productions including multiple stints at The Geffen Playhouse and Pasadena Playhouse. In addition to her work on the stage and screen, she is also known for her award winning turns in video games including roles in the critically acclaimed video game series “Half Life 2” and “The Last of Us”. Most recently she won “Best Performer” at the 2016 BAFTA Game Awards for her role as Kate Collins in the award winning series “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture”.
Here, this Oprah-approved actress shares her haute secrets to the City of Angels. 
Where were you born: Okinawa, Japan
How long in LA:  6 years
Neighborhood: Encino area
Occupation: Actress/Singer
Favorite Restaurant: Matsuhisa
Best Sushi: Matsuhisa or the new New York transplant, Sushi of Gari
Best Italian: Pace or Little Dom’s
Best dessert: Hinoki and the Bird. The meals are fabulous too. But those desserts are so worth it!
Best place for a romantic date:
Anywhere with my husband. Hole in the wall Mexican or cliff side ocean views–if it’s with him, I’m good.
Best Sunday brunch: Gjelina or Four Seasons 
Best place for a power business meeting: Cecconi’s
If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend?
Favorite shopping venue/boutique: Cruising Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: I’m pretty simple and I lose stuff like that. I always love to see what Madewell has on sale. If I need something special, I’ll step it up.
Best Spa: K-town all the way! But if you want a different experience, I love the spas at Exhale.
Favorite Charity Event: The Harvest Home gala. Raising money for an organization that provides housing and holistic care to homeless pregnant women.
Favorite Cultural Event: Backstage at the Geffen Gala
Favorite Cultural Institution: The Geffen Playhouse. I’m so happy to serve on the board of a theatre that doesn’t just produce wonderful theatrical experiences and commission new fearless works. It also serves veterans and actively puts dynamic literacy programs into under privileged schools.
Best Steakhouse: Mastro’s
Best Pizza:
I slung deep dish Chicago pizza in college, so I can’t answer this one. I’ve got biases.
Best Lunch: The Penthouse
Best Gym/Athletic Facility: Our neighborhood Equinox. Love the intimacy, excellence and community.
Best Massage: Again, K-town. They go IN.
Best Limousine/Driving Service: My husband. He’ll laugh at that…
Best Museum/Exhibit: Getty. Those views! Those paintings! Those incredible exhibits!
Describe your city in three words: Diverse. Beautiful. Traffic.
Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore: Yamashiro. I love to take my mother there for great food and to walk the grounds with her. It always transports her back to her childhood. I love to see that wonder in her eyes.
All-around favorite spot in Los Angeles:   The top of Runyon on a clear day. I feel accomplished for conquering the hill and hopeful as I look all the way to the ocean.
Best Aspect of Los Angeles:
One is able to drive 30 minutes in any direction and get a completely different kind of paradise. Having grown up in flat Nebraska, that always takes my breath away. Mountains, ocean, urban life, desert, vineyards and the countryside…you name it, we’ve got it!