Fearless, dynamic and downright fabulous. These words leap to mind when Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress Mariska Hargitay is mentioned. Her commitment to her work, her family and her charitable causes--mainly through the Joyful Heart Foundation, which she founded in 2004--is admirable to say the least. Some would call it epic.
And after a decade of playing Detective Olivia Benson on the absurdly successful Law & Order: SVU, she is going stronger than ever.
It's through her time on SVU that Hargitay became aware of the grim realities of sexual and domestic violence and child abuse in this country. Says Hargitay of her education on these issues, "It wasn't just in the scripts for the show, but in the many emails I received from viewers disclosing their stories of abuse, many for the first time."
Instead of turning away from the pain, Hargitay educated herself. She spent many, many hours studying the facts, she became an advocate for survivors through a Manhattan-based rape crisis program and, eventually, she started her own foundation, Joyful Heart, whose mission it is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. All this while keeping her day job!
Over the last five years, the Joyful Heart Foundation has helped thousands of people reclaim joy in their lives, guiding them toward the light of hope that shines so brightly from a newly opened heart. Hargitay's commitment, her desire to make a difference, her willingness to take hands with those struggling in shadow have paid off in ways she'll likely never know. Her work has touched the lives of so many people, in such a deep and meaningful way. And through it all, she maintains her poise, her balance and her sense of humor.
Now that's one Magnificent Mama.