Law And Order’s Stephanie March Reveals How The Show Inspired Her To ‘Advocate For Women And Girls Who Are Survivors’ In Real Life

 Stephanie March as Alex Cabot in Law & Order: SVU.
Credit: NBC

Law & Order: SVU has been renewed for Season 26, and I could not be more excited about the return of detective Amanda Rollins played by Kelli Giddish. However, as someone who has watched every single season, news like this makes me wonder what some of SVU’s best alumni are up to these days. Most recently, Stephanie March, who played ADA Alex Cabot regularly from Season 2 to Season 5, revealed how the crime show inspired her to advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse in real life.

Most people struggle not to take their work home with them, but for the SVU actress, the content of the show was just too important and startling to leave behind. In an interview with People, the former cast member talked about her life since Law & Order, which mostly consists of philanthropic work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. March remembers the specific episode that inspired her involvement like it was filmed yesterday, as she said:

Yes! When I left to go to Congo? I remember it very clearly. And it was kind of stuck in my head at the time. And so I have to believe that to some degree, everything happens for a reason. That's part of the reason I was so interested in the Panzi Foundation.

The episode in question is from Season 11 after ADA Cabot had left and later returned to work with the famous detective unit in Season 10. In the episode, titled “Witness,” Cabot is trying a case in which a woman witnessed a sex crime, but is scared to speak out, herself a survivor of sexual war crimes in the Congo.

The Panzi Foundation, in which March serves as a board member, supports female survivors both physically and emotionally in an effort to end sexual violence as a weapon in the DRC.

I think people often look past the ‘Order’ in the title, in favor of the action-packed ‘Law’ portion of the show. But in each episode, half the battle of putting away offenders takes place in the courtroom. The Assistant District Attorneys are given the responsibility of fighting for the victims and getting them justice. In portraying one of the best ADAs in the show’s long history, the TV lawyer found her calling in real life, saying:

I felt like my passion really was to advocate for women and girls who are survivors of sexual violence, and how sexual violence deprives us of our body autonomy and often our legal rights and our right to work.

This is not the first time an SVU actor’s work has carried over into their personal life. Earlier this year, via People, Mariska Hargitay, the face of Law and Order, was reportedly mistaken for her character Detective Olivia Benson while filming in a park. A lost little girl came up to Hargitay, recognizing her badge, asking for help finding her mom. The crew stopped production until the girl was once again with her mother.

As most people are aware, given its name and title sequence, the show deals with “sexually based offenses that are considered especially heinous.” It’s not easy content to deal with, especially for the actors who need to channel the emotions of the law enforcement and lawyers who see these cases every day. It’s no wonder March grew to really care about these survivors over the many years she spent in the role, especially when her character dealt specifically with women in the Congo.

I'm not sure that when I got the job, I intended for this to happen, but once I had the job, I became pretty deliberate about it because the subject matter I found disturbing and compelling. It was just not something I could put away when I came home at night from work. So, I became quite deliberate in my choices of how I wanted to participate and how I wanted to use my voice. And I have been lucky enough to find a few places where those interests intersect, and I'm very passionate about it.

Alex Cabot was always my favorite ADA on SVU because of her rigid pursuit of justice and the way she navigated the courtroom with confidence, making the legal system work in favor of the victims. She really cared for the survivors, and that character trait was clearly brought straight from within Stephanie March herself.

I would give anything to see her reprise her role as Cabot in SVU, and it’s not out of the question, as March has returned multiple times before. Fan-favorite alums have had a sneaky habit of reappearing throughout the show’s 25-year run. But I guess I’ll just have to wait for Season 26, which is set to premiere on the 2024 TV schedule on NBC in September.

Until then, you can get your Alex Cabot fix by binge-ing old SVU episodes with a Peacock subscription.