NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Why Mariska Hargitay Said Jane Fonda "Invoked My Mother" in Poignant Speech

The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star thinks her mother would be proud of the night. 

By Jackie Manno

Mariska Hargitay knows the importance of girl power. 

How to Watch

Watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursdays on NBC and next day on Peacock.

On October 19, when the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star was accepting her Sisterhood is Powerful Award at the 2023 Women’s Media Center Awards, she made a touching comment about a woman who has inspired her, and tied it back to the legacy of her late mother, late actress Jayne Mansfield. 

During her speech, Hargitay noted what an honor it was to be photographed next to the actress and activist Jane Fonda. 

"I thank you for being able to stand next to you," Hargitay said, referring to Fonda. "And I also feel that you invoked my mother here tonight. And I bring her in here, in this moment, because I think she would love this night.”

RELATED: Mariska Hargitay Received an Honorary Doctorate and Dedicated it to Assault Survivors

Fonda co-founded the Women's Media Center in 2005 alongside Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan. The nonprofit aims to "raise the visibility, viability and decision-making power of women and girls in media and, thereby, ensuring that their stories get told and their voices are heard," according to its website.

Mariska Hargitay and Jane Fonda stand closely in front of a step and repeat

In an interview with PEOPLE before her speech, Hargitay opened up about what emotions she was feeling prior to the event. 

“It was a lot to take this in. Because these are my mentors, these are the people that I go, ‘Wow.’ The people that made change. I mean, are you kidding me? Gloria [Steinem]? She started a revolution and changed our planet. And then our paths crossed and it feels like fate, but they're like my work mothers,” she told the outlet.

Mariska Hargitay talks about her mother, Jayne Mansfield

Split image of Mariska Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield

Mansfield was a movie star who was known for being one of the first film bombshells in the 1950s and '60s. She gave birth to Mariska Hargitay in 1964, and three years later, was killed in a tragic car accident. Hargitay was in the car at the time, but survived with minor injuries. 

RELATED: Who Is Mariska Hargitay's Father, Mickey Hargitay?

In a 2021 interview with Glamour, Hargitay opened up about how the sudden loss affects the way she plays her SVU character, Olivia Benson

“I think I learned about crisis very young, and I learned very young that shit happens and there’s no guarantees, and we keep going. And then we transform it,” she said. “That’s been kind of my superpower, and the gift of having trauma early in life. I’ve spent the last 50 — how old am I?— 57, so 54 years sort of trying to figure out what happened and why, and what am I supposed to do with it?”

She continued: “I clearly was in that frozen place for a lot of my childhood — of trying to survive, actually trying to survive. My life has been a process of un-peeling the layers and trust and trusting again.”