|Date of Birth||June 29, 1961|
|Origin||Charlotte, North Carolina, USA|
Lawrence was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, the daughter of Earlyn, an education administrator and Head Start supervisor, and Tom Lawrence, a television news reporter for WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina. She grew up in Charlotte, moved to Raleigh in her Junior year of high school, graduated from Needham B. Broughton High School and then University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Lawrence began her acting career on Broadway stage in the 1987 revival of Cabaret. In 1990, she performed in Fiddler on the Roof. She appeared in a number of television movies and series in the 1990s, like Cheers, and Star Trek: Voyager. In 1993, she was cast as Assistant District Attorney Sylvia Costas in the ABC police drama series NYPD Blue. Her consistently praised performance earned the actress three Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series nominations from 1993 to 1996, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series in 1996. In 1996, she left the show for her own comedy series Fired Up on NBC. The series was canceled after two seasons. She later returned in NYPD Blue as a regular, and left the show in 1999, after her character was killed.
Lawrence starred with Betty White and Alfred Molina on the short-lived sitcom Ladies Man from 1999 to 2001. She played Velma Kelly in the Broadway musical Chicago in 2000. She also had a series regular role on the CBS supernatural drama Wolf Lake from 2001 to 2002. In film, she co-starred in Gossip (2000), Little Black Book (2004), and The Alibi (2006).
Lawrence guest starred on many television dramas and sitcoms in the 2000s. She played Maisy Gibbons, a housewife/prostitute in season one of Desperate Housewives. She also appeared in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Boston Legal, Monk, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Mentalist, and Body of Proof. She had a regular role on the short-lived CW teenage drama series Hidden Palms (2008), as Tess Wiatt, and was seen in the Canadian cable television drama The Line in 2009.
In 2009, Lawrence was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal as Izzie Stevens' mother on Grey's Anatomy. In April 2010, Lawrence joined Josh Schwartz's CBS pilot Hitched. In October 2010, she began a recurring role on One Tree Hill. She also played the lead character mother in a Lifetime comedy-drama Drop Dead Diva from 2009 to 2013. Also, she played the birthmother of Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) in the TNT television series Rizzoli & Isles, although in real life the actresses are only 12 years apart.
In recent years, Lawrence also starred in several independent films. In 2013, she was cast in Chris Carter thriller drama series The After. The show was set to premiere on Amazon Studios in 2014. The series was cancelled by Amazon before its premiere on January 5, 2015. In March, 2015, Lawrence was cast in the ABC comedy-drama pilot Mix. In 2016, she appeared on Game of Silence, before being cast on Devious Maids.
In 2002, Lawrence married Dr. Tom Apostle. She has played on the World Poker Tour in the Hollywood Home and performed in benefits for Alzheimer's Association in Los Angeles called Night at Sardi's and the What A Pair show for the John Wayne Breast Cancer Center. Lawrence is the Chairman of the Women In Film Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Women In Film, which since 1973 has advanced professional opportunities for women in the global entertainment marketplace. She supports Global Green and World Wildlife Fund to protect the environment and endangered species.