Law & Order: SVU' Star Mariska Hargitay on How Her Role as Olivia Benson Changed Her Life
Actress Mariska Hargitay, best known as Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” has been open about how her role in the show has impacted her life.
Born in January 1964, Mariska has been portraying Olivia Benson since 1999. During a 2018 interview with ET, the actress admitted that she merged with her character and that the role has taught her a lot.
"I started the Joyful Heart Foundation to help survivors reclaim their lives.”
Mariska Hargitay on working on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”
Although she has been playing Benson for over two decades, she still considers that working on the show is “fulfilling” and “an incredible privilege.”
Apart from that, Mariska stated that she loves her co-stars and that the collaboration between the producers and writers is “incredible,” which is one more reason for her to enjoy the entire experience.
The actress added:
“With moments like this, you’re sort of forced to really take it in because I feel like I’ve been in this marathon for 20 years. You know, just doing the work every day and our days are long, so it’s been a long and beautiful [journey] to have moments to celebrate it.”
Mariska’s time on “Law & Oder: SVU” has definitely changed her, and she was candid about it during a 2018 interview with “The View.”
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How Olivia Benson has changed Mariska Hargitay
Most times, fan mails are from people praising her performance. Since she began portraying Benson, those letters were real stories from people who had undergone situations similar to those shown in the series.
The actress pointed out that she felt both privileged and shocked to receive all those messages because she didn’t know how to respond. Mariska pointed out that she was not an expert but just an ordinary person portraying a character in a TV show.
After learning some striking statistics about how many people experience abuse in their lives, she realized that she had to respond. Mariska shared her course of action:
The Joyful Heart Foundation
“It took a couple of years for me to figure it out. So, I started to put sort of a shape to my response. I educated myself, and in 2004, I started the Joyful Heart Foundation to help survivors reclaim their lives.”
According to the foundation’s website, its mission is to “transform society’s response” when it comes to victims of different types of abuse while supporting survivors in the healing process and, hopefully, “end this violence forever.”
Apart from that, they want to create innovative approaches to treating traumatic events and change the way that people see and respond to such situations while also trying to reform legislation to “ensure justice for survivors.”
If being part of a TV show addressing those kinds of abuse and also creating a foundation to fight them was not enough, Mariska participated in the documentary “I Am Evidence.”
“I Am Evidence”
The 90-minute film, released in December 2017, digs deep into the way that police departments across the US handle sexual assault cases. “I Am Evidence” was so acclaimed that it ended up getting an Emmy.
Even Dick Wolf, the mastermind behind the entire “Law & Order” universe, has praised Mariska’s impact on people’s lives.
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He confessed that the actress was the mother of the #MeToo movement, adding that:
“She has clearly been affected by her role as Detective Benson, and she has turned that into a mission to make a difference.”
Nowadays, Mariska is very focused on her career in the entertainment industry. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is currently broadcasting its 21st season, which made it the longest-running live-action series on TV.
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