Edith "Edie" Falco ( /ˈiːdi ˈfælkoʊ/; born July 5, 1963) is an American television, film and stage actress, known for her role in Oz as Diane Wittlesey and her roles as both Carmela Soprano on the HBO series The Sopranos and the titular character on the Showtime series Nurse Jackie. She is the first actress to win an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy as well as Outstanding Actress in a Drama.
Falco was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Judith Anderson, an actress, and Frank Falco, a jazz drummer. Her father is Italian American and her mother Swedish American. Falco's siblings are Joseph, Paul and Ruth. Her uncle is novelist, playwright and poet Edward Falco, an English professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. She was raised in Northport and West Islip, on Long Island. Falco graduated from Northport High School in 1981, after playing Eliza Doolittle in a production of My Fair Lady. She attended the Acting Program at SUNY Purchase with fellow actors Stanley Tucci and Ving Rhames; she remains friends with both.
Early in her career, Falco made guest appearances on television shows like Law & Order and Homicide: Life on the Street. Tom Fontana, executive director of Homicide, cast Falco as Eva Thormann, the wife of an injured police officer, after watching Falco's performance in Laws of Gravity, a 1992 film directed by Nick Gomez. Fontana said of her, "She's an actress who's unadorned by any embroidery. She does everything with such simplicity and honesty, it's breathtaking." A struggling actress at the time, Falco said her salary from these television episodes paid for one month's worth of rent. Fontana cast Falco as a regular character, prison officer Diane Wittlesey, in his HBO series Oz based on her work in the Homicide episodes "Son of a Gun" and "A Shot in the Dark".