CAPTAIN OLIVIA BENSON
Played By Mariska Hargitay
Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Mariska Hargitay stars in "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" as Olivia Benson, a dedicated and emotionally driven detective and commanding officer of New York City's Special Victims Unit. Benson is the longest-running primetime drama character in television history.
Hargitay also serves as executive producer and director of the series.
Now in its 24th season and with over 500 episodes, "SVU" is the longest-running primetime drama series of all time.
Hargitay won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, a Golden Globe for Best Television Actress - Drama Series, four Gracie Allen Awards and a People's Choice Award for Drama TV Star for her portrayal of Olivia Benson. She also earned an additional seven Emmy nominations and six SAG Award nominations for the role. She was honored with the Crystal Nymph Award at the Monte-Carlo TV Festival and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next to the star of her mother, screen legend Jayne Mansfield.
Hargitay's role on "SVU" awakened her to burdens that survivors of trauma often carry: the weight of shame, judgement and isolation. Inspired by their courage, she founded the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004, whose mission is to transform society's response to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, support survivors' healing and end this violence forever. At the heart of their advocacy work is the "End the Backlog" campaign, which aims to eliminate the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sitting in storage across America so that survivors can get the closure they deserve. She subsequently produced "I Am Evidence," an HBO documentary film on the topic that was nominated for a Peabody Award and won the 2019 Emmy Award for Best Documentary.
Hargitay also co-produced "Emanuel," about the murder of nine churchgoers at Emanuel AME Church in 2015, and executive produced "My Beautiful Stutter," about the attendees at Camp SAY, a summer camp for youth who stutter.
Hargitay's advocacy work off screen has earned her several honors, including Variety's Power of Women Karma Award, the Good Sister Award for Advocacy from the Children's Advocacy Center of Manhattan, the Special Ally Award from the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Muse Award from New York Women in Film and Television. Most recently, she was named a Woman of the Year by Glamour Magazine.
Prior to "SVU," Hargitay starred on NBC's "ER" as Cynthia Hooper. She gained notice as a cast regular in the sitcom "Can't Hurry Love" with Nancy McKeon and starred in the NBC drama "Prince Street." Other television credits include "Seinfeld," "Ellen," "thirtysomething," "Law & Order," "Chicago P.D." and David Lynch's "Hotel Room." In 2014, Hargitay was the featured guest on "Inside the Actors Studio." She also appeared in the telefilms "The Advocate's Devil" and "Night Sins," as well as the Lifetime movie "Plain Truth." Her film credits include appearances in Mike Myers' "The Love Guru" and the critically acclaimed "Leaving Las Vegas."
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hargitay is the youngest daughter of Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay. She lives in New York with her husband, actor Peter Hermann, and their three children.