Emmy Award winner Mariska Hargitay stars as Olivia Benson, the committed and emotionally driven detective on Wolf Films/Universal Television’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, now in its thirteenth season.
Hargitay has earned eight consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Actress in a Drama, with a win in 2006. She also received the 2005 Golden Globe Award and Golden Globe nomination in 2009, six SAG Award nominations, and two Gracie Allen Awards for American Women in Radio and Television.
"It’s gratifying to play such a complex character. Olivia is not only an accomplished, street-smart cop, she’s also an empathetic woman who can respond emotionally to victims of terrible crimes without compromising her professionalism," says Hargitay.
Hargitay is also known to NBC viewers for her recurring role on ER as Dr. Greene's (Anthony Edwards) girlfriend Cynthia Hooper in the 1997-98 season of the top-rated show. She gained notice as a cast regular in the sitcom Can't Hurry Love with Nancy McKeon. She also starred in the NBC drama, Prince Street. Other television credits include guest roles on NBC's Seinfeld, Ellen, Thirtysomething, and David Lynch's Hotel Room. Hargitay 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 and in Mike Myers' The Love Guru.
Inspired by her role on SVU, Hargitay created the Joyful Heart Foundation, whose mission is to heal, educate, and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, and shed light into the darkness surrounding these issues. With offices in New York City, Los Angeles and Hawaii, JHF offers healing, wellness and empowerment programs for survivors of abuse and the professionals who care for them. "Joyful Heart is about the courage to heal, and our programming is dedicated to honoring that brave decision."
Through Joyful Heart, Hargitay has used her voice to bring attention, funding, and new legislation to critical issues facing sexual and family violence survivors, working with the medical community, the criminal justice system and law enforcement. She testified before Congress last year urging lawmakers to address the backlog of untested rape kits in the US, and recently launched endthebacklog.org, the first website dedicated to addressing this issue.
Hargitay has also lent her time and voice to other organizations such as Lee National Denim Day (one of the largest single-day fundraisers for breast cancer) for which she was the 2007 Ambassador, Autism Speaks, The Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center, The Santa Monica Rape Crisis Center, Project ALS, The James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness (JRI), Safe Horizon and the Venice Family Clinic, the nation’s largest free health clinic. She has also appeared in national campaigns for NBC’s "The More You Know" and Got Milk.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hargitay is the youngest daughter of screen legend Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay. She lives in New York with her husband, actor Peter Hermann, and their three children.