Sonja Sohn

Sonja Sohn

Sohn at Harvard Law School in April 2011.
Born Sonja Williams
(1964-05-09) May 9, 1964
Newport News, Virginia, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1996–present
Children 2

Sonja Sohn (born Sonja Williams; May 9, 1964)[1] is an American actress. She is best known for her roles as Detective Kima Greggs on the HBO drama The Wire and Detective Samantha Baker on the ABC series Body of Proof. She is also known for having starred in the independent film Slam, which she co-wrote. Her role on The Wire led to her current work as the leader of a Baltimore community initiative called ReWired for Change.[2]

Early life

Sohn was born in Newport News, Virginia. Her father, an African-American soldier in the United States Army, met her Korean mother when he was stationed in South Korea after the Korean War. After Sohn's older brother was born, her mother decided to move to the United States as she felt that a child of Korean and African-American parentage would be discriminated against in Korea.[3] Sohn had a difficult childhood; she was often teased for her mixed heritage,[3] her schizophrenic father physically abused her mother,[4] and her older brother was killed when he was a teenager. She attended and graduated from Warwick High School in Newport News.[5]


Sohn (left) with The Wire co-stars, Jamie Hector (middle) and Michael K. Williams

Before she was an actress, Sohn was a slam poet. While performing her work on stage, she was spotted by Marc Levin who offered her a role in his film Slam. She also wrote lyrics and co-wrote the script for the film. It went on to win the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Film at the Sundance Film Festival. After debuting in Slam, Sohn appeared in minor roles in films such as Shaft and Bringing Out the Dead. She also starred in independent films Perfume, G and The Killing Zone. Through the five seasons of the HBO series The Wire, she held a starring role as Detective Kima Greggs.[6] She struggled during the first season of The Wire and considered quitting as she had trouble recalling her lines. She has also guest starred on many episodes of Cold Case as "Toni Halstead". She won the supporting television actress award at the 2008 Asian Excellence Awards for her character on The Wire.

She had a supporting role in the Hollywood film Step Up 2: The Streets. In 2008-09, she was a guest star in the ABC series Brothers & Sisters, and in 2010 she appeared in an episode of CBS series The Good Wife. In 2011, she was a guest star on the show Bar Karma.[7] She played (Seasons 1-2) Detective Samantha Baker in the medical drama television series Body of Proof with Dana Delany and Jeri Ryan, which premiered on ABC on March 29, 2011.[8]

On May 30, 2014, it was announced that Sohn would be joining season 2 of The Originals, in a recurring role as the witch Lenore a.k.a. Esther Mikaelson.[9]


Previously involved in political activism (she campaigned in North Carolina in support of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential bid), Sohn took a break from acting in 2009 to concentrate on social issues. She is the founder and CEO of the Baltimore-based reWIRED for Change, an outreach program intended to communicate with (and ultimately rehabilitate) at-risk youth involved in criminal activity.[10] The program is run out of the University of Maryland School of Social Work and uses episodes of The Wire as a teaching tool, encouraging the participants to examine and query their lives and past actions.[11] Other actors and writers involved with The Wire serve as board members.[12] In 2011, she was presented with the Woman of the Year award from the Harvard Black Men's Forum.[13]

Personal life

Sohn has two daughters.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1996 Work June
1998 Slam Lauren Bell Also screenwriter
1999 Getting to Know You Lynn
1999 Bringing Out the Dead Kanita
2000 Shaft Alice
2001 Perfume Dandy
2002 G Shelly
2003 The Killing Zone Jennifer
2008 Step Up 2: The Streets Sarah
2012 The Wire: The Musical Detective Shakima 'Kima' Greggs Short
2015 The Missing Girl Franny


Year Title Role Notes
1998 Bronx County N/A Television film
2002–08 The Wire Detective Shakima 'Kima' Greggs Series regular, 60 episodes
2006–07 Cold Case Toni Halstead Recurring role, 5 episodes
2008–09 Brothers & Sisters Trish Evans Recurring role, 4 episodes
2010–13 The Good Wife Sonya Rucker 2 episodes
2011 Bar Karma Lucy Borden Episode: "An Open Mind"
2011–12 Body of Proof Samantha Baker Series regular, 29 episodes
2012 Drop Dead Diva Judge Vivian Holston Episode: "Jane's Getting Married"
2012 Burn Notice Agent Olivia Riley Recurring role, 5 episodes
2013 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Lisa Carter Episode: "American Tragedy"
2014–15 The Originals Lenore / Esther Recurring role, 8 episodes
2016 Luke Cage Captain Betty Audrey Recurring Role

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Film or series Result
1998 Gotham Awards Best Actress Slam Won
1998 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Slam Won
1998 Independent Spirit Awards Best Debut Performance Slam Nominated
2005 Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series The Wire Nominated
2008 Asian Excellence Awards Outstanding Television Actress The Wire Won
2009 Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series The Wire Nominated


  1. Holtzclaw, Mike (October 25, 1999). "Local Actress Now Working With Big Stars". Daily Press. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  2. "After 'The Wire', Sonja Sohn couldn’t leave Baltimore’s troubled streets behind" Article, ReWired for Change web site
  3. 1 2 Gross, Terry (March 15, 2012). "Sonja Sohn: Changing Baltimore Long After 'The Wire'". Fresh Air. NPR. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  4. Ulman, Danielle (November 29, 2011). "Sohn, Torre, others tell of their struggle to overcome trauma". The Daily Record. She said she watched in horror as her father put her mother's head on the chopping block in the kitchen, held a knife over her and threatened to kill her. She later found out that her father was a paranoid schizophrenic...
  5. Life Servers Sohn Well; Actress Graduated from Newport News School, Richmond Times-Dispatch, November 7, 1998, B4, by Mike Holtzclaw
  6. "Character profile - Detective Shakima "Kima" Greggs". HBO. 2004. Retrieved 2006-07-22.
  7. Bargiel, Nina (February 22, 2011). "Episode 103: "An Open Mind" with Sonja Sohn!". Current TV. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
  8. "ABC Adds "Body of Proof", "Off the Map" to Roster". The Futon Critic. May 14, 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  9. Tierney Bricker (May 30, 2014). "The Originals Casts The Wire Star in Witchy Season 2 Role". E!. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  10. Phil Zabriskie, "After 'The Wire' ended, actress Sonja Sohn couldn't leave Baltimore's troubled streets behind", Washington Post, January 27, 2012.
  11. Sonja Sohn's Road to Redemption - story on Sohn's community activism with reWIRED for Change in B (Baltimore online newspaper), accessed January 1, 2010
  12. Members page reWIRED for Change, accessed January 1, 2010
  13. "Sohn honored". Boston Globe. March 29, 2011. p. G14. "The Wire" actress Sonja Sohn receives the Woman of the Year award at the Harvard Black Men's Forum 17th Annual Celebration of Black Women
  14. Brown, Sloane (November 5, 2006). "A NIGHT FOR GUYS TO BE BAD FOR GOOD". Baltimore Sun. p. 2N. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
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