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See Kelli Giddish on SVU as a Different Character 4 Years Before She Played Rollins

The actress had a guest role before her character had an official role in the Law & Order family.

By Jackie Manno

While we now know Kelli Giddish as the badass detective Amanda Rollins on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, her original appearance on the show was completely different. Many may not know that in 2007, Giddish actually had a guest star role on the procedural.

Kelli Giddish's first role on SVU before Rollins

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Back in 2007 during Season 8, Episode 12, titled "Outsider," Giddish played a sexual assault survivor named Kara Bawson. In a heartbreaking scene between her and Detective Fin Tutuola (Ice T), she painfully describes her horrific attack. 

In the episode, Tutuola investigates a series of recent rapes that he suspects were all done by the same person. This leads him to collaborate with detective Chester Lake, whose case also matches the profile. They eventually track down a man named named Kevin (played by Kal Penn), who ends up being the perpetrator. While Kevin is attempting to flee on a boat, he gets shot by Tutuola. 

Giddish's gut wrenching performance as Bawson must've clearly impressed the casting directors, because a few years later, they brought her back on for a much more substantial role that we all know today. 

RELATED: Ice T and Kelli Giddish Reunited on the Law & Order Set: See Their Cute Selfie

Kelli Giddish as Amanda Rollins on SVU

Giddish returned to SVU in 2011 for Season 13, this time as a different character: Detective Amanda Rollins. After an epic 12-year stint, Rollins gets shot during the Season 24 premiere, but survives her injuries. A few episodes later, she reveals that she has decided to leave SVU for a position as a criminology professor at Fordham University. 

In a 2022 interview with Variety, Giddish opened up about her departure from the show. "I started playing her in my late 20s, so I’ve played her in three decades of my life, which is nuts. It’s insane. This is a show unlike any other. Shows don’t last 12 years, much less getting to play a character. With playing someone as multi-faceted as Rollins, I got to play all kinds of different things — down and out, on top, joyful, doubtful, scared, triumphant. I got to do the gambit," she said of Rollins. 

Det. Rollins on Law And Order SVU

RELATED: Inside Amanda Rollins' Thrilling Return to Law & Order

She continued: "My side of things is just that it’s time in the Rollins storyline. I felt like where it was heading, and where it headed last night, just seemed the right place to leave it right now. I am so excited about things going on in my personal life and kind of the mirroring of what’s going on in my personal life and in Rollins’, there’s a lot of joy to be experienced."