But with plans to be on the show for only three more seasons, the actress is already expecting that adjusting to life afterward will be difficult.
Recently, Hargitay was featured in the cover story with People Magazine for their ‘Women Changing the World’ issue and had the chance to open up about her experience on the show, as well as, how it’s changed her life concerning activism.
For the actress, she never anticipated that the show would take her as far as it has, but she’s glad that she was able to be along for the ride. She also believes that she was meant to play the role of Olivia Benson. “I think I was meant to do this,” she told People. “I was the one who was supposed to play Olivia Benson.”
From her role playing the criminal investigator, she’s had countless people reach out to her to share their sexual and domestic assault stories for the first time, ultimately, leading her to form the Joyful Heart Foundation.
Still, the Golden Globes winner hasn’t forgotten where she came from, along with the unlikely events that allowed her to land a role on the show and go on such an unprecedented and successful run with Law & Order: SVU.
“Every day I marvel at the turn of events that brought me here,” she said during the interview. “That I was the one to get this role that led me to this life, to this mission. And every day I say thank you.” And while Hargitay knows her work as a rape victim advocate will continue well-beyond her role in the show, she still is wary about her exit from the television program.
“When I finish SVU, as much as it will be an enormous adjustment, I will also be able to look back and say, ‘I gave it my all and maybe even a little more,'” she said. “And I’m excited about the next chapter.”
Currently, Hargitay says that there aren’t ‘enough hours in the day’ to get the things done that she wants with needing to spend time with her husband, three children, running her foundation, all while continuing to work on SVU.
“I’m on a TV show, and I have a foundation and three children and a husband, and they all need, as anything that you value does, a lot of focus and energy,” she concluded in the interview with People. “Time is my most precious commodity now. I’ve had to think smarter to get more done.”
Hargitay’s foundation which started the ‘End the Backlog’ initiative to bring to the forefront, untested rape kits, has identified more than 225,000 over the last several years, finally initiating the steps to bring justice to the victims that have been left waiting.