Det. Olivia Benson
The 2006 Emmy Winner for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, 2005 Golden Globe Winner for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, as well as the 2004, 2005 and 2007 Emmy Nominee, and 2004 Screen Actors Guild Nominee for Lead Actress, Mariska Hargitay portrays Detective Olivia Benson in the hit drama series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Executive produced by Dick Wolf, this series is the second installment of the "Law & Order" brand.
This series chronicles the life and crimes of the Special Victims Unit of the New York Police Department and the elite squad of detectives who investigate sexually based crimes. Hargitay is now entering her tenth season playing Detective Benson, a character whose difficult past - a child of rape - prompted her career move to the unit.
"As a woman, it's gratifying to play a part that's a multi-layered challenge," said Hargitay. "Olivia is not only a competent, street-smart cop, she's an empathetic woman who can respond emotionally to victims of terrible crimes without compromising her professionalism."
Hargitay's work on "SVU" motivated her to help real-life survivors of sexual assault. Giving generously of her time and talent, she has become involved with several non-profit rape crisis programs on both the East and West coasts, including SAAVI (Sexual Assault Victims Volunteer Initiative) and her own organization, the Joyful Heart Foundation.
In 2004, Hargitay also received the Gracie Allen Award on behalf of American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) for Individual Achievement for Best Female Lead Actress for her portrayal of Benson. And in "SVU's" freshman season (1999-2000), she earned Best Actress nominations from the Viewers for Quality Television, the TV Guide Awards and the International Press Academy.
Hargitay gained recognition from her recurring role on CTV's popular series "ER" as Dr. Greene's (Anthony Edwards) sometimes naïve girlfriend, Cynthia Hooper, in the 1997-98 season. Hargitay also earned notice as a cast regular in comedy series "Can't Hurry Love," starring Nancy McKeon, as well as for her roles on the popular series "Falcon Crest" and "Prince Street." Her other television credits include starring roles in the television movies "Plain Truth," "The Advocate's Devil" and "Night Sins." Additionally, Hargitay was seen in guest-starring roles on "Seinfeld," "Ellen," "Thirtysomething," "Wiseguy" and "In the Heat of the Night."
Hargitay's feature-film credits include "Lake Placid" (starring Bill Pullman and Bridget Fonda), the critically acclaimed "Leaving Las Vegas" and Michael Rymer's "Perfume." She also fulfilled a lifelong dream of acting on the New York stage as she reprised the role of Sunny Jacobs in an off-Broadway production of "The Exonerated."
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hargitay is the youngest daughter of screen legend Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay. She divides her time between New York and Los Angeles.