09/15/2006 07:31 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

What Can I Gain from My Fear?

I had a very strong father that has always been very encouraging and
said "If you just put your mind to things, you can do it." I've always
been taught that we can overcome anything and that nothing is bigger
than we are.

I think that being an athlete had so much to do with learning how to
conquer my fears, push my boundaries, set goals.

When I got this part on SVU I defined my character through her
fearlessness because I thought, "She's so different than I am, but
that's how she defines herself." She feels the fear and does it anyway
because she feels she doesn't have a choice. My character, Olivia
Benson, no matter what she feels, she always pushes herself through it
in the end, the heart and soul always prevail, and I find that young
women really respond to that. They feel their own strength in her.
Women are always saying to me "Oh I wish I could be like Olivia" and I
say you are, because if you didn't have that same strength inside you,
you wouldn't identify with her. It's just about letting it come out."

The character has been such a teacher to me because now I know what
it's like to hold a loaded gun and how scary it is or when you have a
goal, when you're trying to save someone, the goal becomes more
important than your own fear. So I've been trying to apply that
principle to my own life, whether the goal is a relationship or public
speaking or meeting new people or ending a fight or pushing your
boundaries or trying to get more done in a day or becoming a mother,
whatever. Instead of focusing on my fear I focus on what I'm going to
get out of it.

If you haven't already visited our new Becoming Fearless section, click here for more blog posts, news stories, and special features on relationships, work, parenting, health, sex . . . life.