Mariska Hargitay and Dick Wolf in Conversation at The Paley Center For Media
At the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, guests were treated to a screening of Law & Order SVU, now in it’s 19th season and a conversation with creator Dick Wolf and Mariska Hargitay who plays NYPD Officer Olivia Benson on the show. The series which began in 1990, dives into the dangerous and often heartbreaking world of crime in and around New York City and the grueling, hard work and dedication it takes from law enforcement. The episodes focus on story lines such as rape, kidnapping, abuse and many other heinous crimes that take place where innocent lives often end up being lost.
Mariska touched on her experiences playing such an important character on the NBC show and how in the beginning, she found it difficult to adjust to a tough city like New York, after being born and raised in California.
Over the years, her role of Olivia Benson has inspired and helped to connect real life victims to feel more at ease in discussing their own stories and getting the help they need. After last night’s screening, members of the audience were very open and honest during the Q&A about some of their own experiences of abuse and how Law & Order SVU has helped them to heal and not feel so alone.
In 2004, Mariska Hargitay decided to use her celebrity status as a platform and founded the Joyful Heart Foundation for victims of abuse and sexual crimes, including children. She was absolutely horrified by the statistics she had seen during the research while preparing for her role and decided she wanted to help. The foundation has also become a place for victims to have a place to turn to for help and the referrals they need to overcome their traumas.
Law & Order SVU was created by the Emmy-winning Dick Wolf, who is also known for such work as Miami Vice, the Chicago franchise and his reputation for bringing realistic story lines and incredible characters to his shows.
If that’s not enough, Taylor Swift loved the character of Olivia Benson so much that she even named her cat after her -(now that’s when you know you’ve made an impact on the world)! In addition, Law & Order SVU helped open the doors to the #metoo movement which has now become a huge focus within Hollywood and the entertainment industry.
Thank you to Megan Levy, the team at the Lippin Group and the Paley Center For Media for their hospitality.