Cherisse Gay Lanier was born in California, the daughter of a pastor. She attended California State Fullerton as an undergrad, where she studied opera, voice, theatre arts, and acting. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Arts, with an emphasis in acting.
Cherisse then entered into law school at Western State College of Law and graduated in 1997. She passed the California Bar Exam in 1997.
She has been a practicing attorney for 19 years.
Mother to three children (ages 13-25), Cherisse lives in the South Bay of Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters.