Gimpel was born in Manhattan, New York. In 1982, she graduated from New York's High School of Performing Arts. She had toured the United States and Europe with her mother, singer Phyllis Bash, in the play "Porgy and Bess." Her father is Joseph Gimpel, a short story writer.
Erica Gimpel burst onto the scene as the unforgettable "Coco" in the international hit series "Fame" (1982). Since that time, she has appeared in dozens of feature films and television shows. She played "Angel Brown" in the NBC series "Profiler" (1996) and appeared for six seasons as "Adele Newman" in the Emmy Award-winning series "ER" (1994). Her other television credits include the Golden Globe winning series "House M.D." (2004), "Criminal Minds" (2005), recurring role on the Emmy Award-winning "Boston Legal" (2004), and recurring role on the CW hit"Veronica Mars" (2004) as Wallace's mother. Some of Ms. Gimpel's favorites include "Touched by an Angel" (1994) opposite Phylicia Rashad,"JAG" (1995), and the Christmas fable Santa and Pete (1999) (TV) opposite the legendary James Earl Jones. Ms. Gimpel's film credits include the Oscar nominated short "Tuesday Morning Ride" with Ruby Dee, Wayne Wang's "Smoke" opposite Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker, Abel Ferrara's The King of New York" with Christopher Walken, "Touch Me" opposite Amanda Peet, Hal Hartley's "Flirt" and "No Such Thing" opposite Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren, and Disney's hit "Freaky Friday" opposite Jamie Lee Curtis. Ms. Gimpel has just completed shooting the independent film "Blue Eyes" which was shot in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. While balancing a full acting career Ms. Gimpel is also a singer/songwriter blending the styles of Jazz/Pop and Alternative. She is currently (2008) performing in the Los Angeles area with her trio. Ms. Gimpel is also an active member of the world peace organization, The SGI-USA.
Gimpel was a judge on RTE One's Fame: The Musical, an Irish TV talent show seeking a boy and a girl to play Nick and Serena respectively in the Irish touring production of Fame. In January 2010, Gimpel released her first CD, Spread your Wings and Fly.