Mariska Hargitay is incredibly thankful for the character of Olivia Benson, which she has portrayed on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for 24 seasons. To her, this character is not just a role, but a part of who she is. She has dedicated years to studying the tough issues that the show tackles, such as law enforcement, sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and trauma. But her dedication doesn't stop at her work on the show.
Playing Benson has taught Hargitay so much and has helped her grow as a person. Winning an Emmy for the role in 2006 was a big achievement, but Hargitay feels that the personal growth she has experienced is even more valuable.
As a result of her dedication to understanding these critical issues, Hargitay founded the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004. The foundation's primary mission is to put an end to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, while also providing support to the victims who have suffered from these experiences.
Hargitay credits her family for helping her cope with the challenging subjects she encounters in her work. Her husband Peter Hermann, also an actor, and their three children provide her with the love and support she needs.
Currently, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is on a break, but new episodes will resume on March 23. Hargitay continues to give everything she has to the role of Olivia Benson, putting all that she has learned into making a difference in the lives of others.