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.