“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star Mariska Hargitay praised those in the MeToo movement who had spoken out against sexual assault when she spoke Friday on stage at the opening ceremony of the 58th Monte Carlo Television Festival. The Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress was in the Principality of Monaco to receive the festival’s Crystal Nymph Award, given to an actor each year in recognition of an outstanding career.
Hargitay’s honor was awarded in part due to her advocacy work for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse through the Joyful Heart Foundation, which she founded in 2004. In presenting her the award, Prince Albert II of Monaco, who opened the festival as its honorary president, described her as a “brilliant actress and an outstanding personality.”
Hargitay thanked Dick Wolf, creator and executive producer of “Law & Order: SVU” and Honorary Consul to Monaco, for having “made so much possible for me.” Wolf later joined her on stage.
Hargitay said: “What I am most grateful for is that I have been given a platform and a voice to speak about the things that are important to me, and a platform and a voice that have allowed me to contribute to bringing positive change into the world, and my goodness what a changed world this is since I started the show.”
Referring to the MeToo movement, she said: “I express my deepest thanks to the many women and the many men alongside who I have worked, and especially those whose extraordinary acts of courage have brought the recent seismic shifts in the way that our society addresses and understands sexual violence.”
With a faltering voice, struggling to keep her emotions in check, Hargitay referred to Prince Albert II’s mother, American actress Grace Kelly, who became Princess of Monaco after marrying Prince Rainier III. She used the reference to deliver a stinging rebuke to the crude tone of certain elements of public and political discourse in the U.S.
“There are probably few places in the world where the word ‘grace’ has more resonance than it does here in Monaco,” she said. “Much of what is being said in the world today, and especially much of what currently comes out of the country that I call home, is notable for its utter lack of grace, so I am especially honored and especially pleased to be here with you in this place where, as I have said, grace lives so deeply in all of you here.” The reference to Kelly elicited loud applause from the Monegasque audience.
Hargitay added: “Going forward I want to challenge myself and all of us to speak with grace – to use the platforms and the voices that we have been given to elevate the voices of those who might not otherwise be heard. To speak with courage and conviction and confidence about what is most important to us, and, perhaps most importantly, to listen. Simply to listen. I think the gift of letting someone tell their story may be the most grace-filled gift that we can give.”
Also on stage at the ceremony was Anne Sweeney, a director on Netflix’s board, and former president of Disney/ABC Television Group, who is president of the fest’s fiction jury.
The evening ended with the world premiere screening of the first episode of Amazon Prime Original’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” in the presence of cast members John Krasinski (who also serves as executive producer), Dina Shihabi and Wendell Pierce, alongside series creators, showrunners and executive producers Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland.