Who is Mariska Hargitay and Other Things You Need to Know


By: Claire Biggs, Regular Contributor


“How can you call yourself an American if you’ve never seen an episode of Law & Order: SVU?!”

So those words came out of my mouth today.

Like, presumably, most Americans, I have a thing for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It isn’t my favorite television show, but over the past decade or so, I’ve seen more than a few episodes. God help me if I have something to do when a marathon is on, because whenever USA decides to fill their day with reruns, I dutifully take my seat on the couch.

It’s almost Pavlovian.

Because of my affection for the show, it’s natural that I would have at least some passing interest in the actors who bring those characters to life. When I got in my car today, I turned to gush to my friend about Mariska Hargitay’s involvement in the new NO MORE PSA campaign when he rocked my world.

“Who is Mariska Hargitay?”

After regaining control of the car, I gave a short speech I like to call “Why Detective Olivia Benson is one of my favorite TV characters,” which was quickly followed by something close to a sermon on why he needed to know who Mariska was and why her work is important.

For most people I know, sexual assault isn’t a normal topic of conversation covered on the way to lunch. For those of us who advocate for an end to sexual assault, however, it’s something we bring up as often as most people talk about their favorite sports team.


Image from nomore.org

When I heard Mariska was making her directorial debut in collaboration with a slew of PSAs about sexual assault and domestic violence, I made a point to talk to everyone I could about them. The PSAs, featuring celebs like Amy Poehler, Kiernan Shipka, Hargitay’s former on-screen partner Chris Meloni, focus on the importance of bystander intervention in the fight to end these forms of violence.

So why do I make it a point to talk about Hargitay and her work? If you’re not familiar with the statistics found in the “NO MORE Study,” conducted by GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications, and funded by the Avon Foundation for Women, you need to check it out.

Because so many women, and men, are at risk, I want to make sure my friends know where they can turn for support and who their high-profile supporters would be. I admire Detective Benson because I grew up watching her fight for the victims on SVU. But when it comes to real life, we’d be lucky to have Mariska in their corner.   

About Claire: Claire Biggs landed what she thinks is one of the best jobs in the world writing for MTV’s pro-social blog, MTV Act. She’s a writer who watches too much TV and reads even more books. She’s probably on Twitter (@ClaireMBiggs) right now.


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