Lieutenant Olivia Benson
Played by Mariska Hargitay
Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Mariska Hargitay stars as Lieutenant Olivia Benson, a dedicated and emotionally-driven detective and commanding officer of New York City's Special Victims Unit on NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," now in its 20th season. She also serves as executive producer and director of the show.
Hargitay has garnered eight Emmy nominations for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, winning the 2006 Emmy Award for that category. She has also received two Golden Globe nominations for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, winning the award in 2005, in addition to six SAG nominations for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series. In 2017, she received her fourth Gracie Award for Outstanding Female Lead in a Drama. In 2013, Hargitay was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, next to the star of her mother, screen legend Jayne Mansfield.
Her role on the show awakened her to burdens that survivors of trauma often carry: the weight of shame, judgment 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 produced "I Am Evidence," an HBO documentary film on the topic that premiered in April 2018. She also made her directorial debut with Joyful Heart's "No More" public service announcement campaign.
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 and the Special Ally Award from the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Prior to "SVU," Hargitay co-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 on the NBC drama "Prince Street." Other television credits include "Seinfeld," "Ellen," "thirtysomething" and David Lynch's "Hotel Room." In 2014, Hargitay was featured on "Inside the Actor's 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 the critically acclaimed "Leaving Las Vegas," as well as Mike Myers' "The Love Guru."
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.