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Law & Order: SVU actor Mariska Hargitay has been playing Olivia Benson since 1999. The show features sensitive topics, so Hargitay must take steps to prepare emotionally. Hargitay revealed The Hamilton Mixtape song she listens to before an emotional scene.   

Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart foundation

Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson on 'Law & Order: SVU'
Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson on ‘Law & Order: SVU’ | Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Hargitay feels a deep connection to her fans. She says she’s greatly affected by fans who write to her and tell her about their stories of abuse.

“It’s been a privilege to witness a lot of people’s stories and their deepest, most intimate, delicate stories of their lives,” says Hargitay during an interview on The Kelly Clarkson Show. “People have been disclosing, and I started getting a very different kind of fan mail. Instead of people saying, ‘Oh, I love your show,’ they started disclosing.”

Hargitay says these letters prompted her to start the Joyful Heart foundation in 2004. The website says the organization’s goal is to “transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever.”

The Law & Order: SVU actor began to notice the letters she received had the same theme. Many of the messages mentioned shame and isolation. “It’s been profound and beautiful to have people say, ‘Your show changed my life; now I know that I’m not alone,’” says Hargitay.  

‘The Hamilton Mixtape’ inspires Mariska Hargitay before emotional scenes

Lin-Manuel Miranda in 'Hamilton'
Lin-Manuel Miranda in ‘Hamilton’ | Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

During her interview on The Kelly Clarkson Show, Hargitay stopped for a moment to say something to Clarkson. “Can I say one thing? Because I’ve gotta get this out,” said Hargitay. “I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m a huge Hamilton fan. I think I’m second only to Rose O’Donnell in terms of how many times I’ve seen Hamilton. I saw the Broadway show 22 times.”

Hargitay says she and her husband, Younger star Peter Hermann, were so moved by the play that they couldn’t attend the Broadway premiere party after opening night. She says they were crying and very emotional, so they decided to go home.

“What I want to tell you is I had The Hamilton Mixtape on, and I heard your rendition,” says Hargitay. “And I have to say it slayed me. And it affected me so deeply, still to this day. Sometimes I prepare [for an acting scene], listening to that if it’s a really emotional scene. I feel such an intimate connection with you on an artistic level and I just wanted to share that.”

Hargitay’s kind words thrilled Clarkson. She said that was the “compliment of the year.”

Kelly Clarkson’s song on ‘The Hamilton Mixtape’

The song Hargitay is referring to is “It’s Quiet Uptown.” She gave a moving performance at Live on the Honda Stage at iHeartRadio in 2016. Hargitay says Clarkson delivered the song with depth and power.

Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays on NBC at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

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How to get help: If you or someone you know has been sexually abused, text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 to reach a crisis counselor for free and confidential support.