Laying Down the Law. Should her Emmy Award-winning run on "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" ever end, actress Mariska Hargitay might just have a future on Capitol Hill.
HOH caught up with the actress just before she appeared at a Wednesday evening forum at the Library of Congress looking at how shows such as "SVU" can play a role in educating the public about health issues. Hargitay had spent her day on Capitol Hill lobbying as a representative of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a group that she founded in 2004 to help empower victims of sexual assault.
The actress asked Members to hold a hearing on the backlog of untested rape kits - and she said she got a promise from Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, to do just that.
"It was a very exciting day," Hargitay said. "We seem to have gotten our point across."
Hargitay noted that she probably wasn't the only reason for the successful outcome; several other groups have been lobbying for a hearing for awhile. But she said her day on Capitol Hill went "spectacularly well," adding that she met with several other Members, including Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) - "sort of a thrill on several levels," she said.
Hargitay appeared alongside "SVU" executive producer Neal Baer at the forum, sponsored by the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism's Hollywood, Health and Society program. The actress recalled that she didn't really even understand problems such as sexual assault and domestic violence until she started receiving letters from viewers sharing their own tragic abuse stories.
"I remember the breath sort of leaving my body as the first letter came," she said. "And [they've] been coming in the thousands ever since."
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