‘Law & Order: SVU’ Actor Kelli Giddish Says Having a Southern ‘Sensibility’ Helped with Career

by John Jamison

Kelli Giddish has now spent an entire decade on “Law & Order: SVU,” playing the role of Detective Amanda Rollins. The Georgia native’s professional acting career began in 2005 and has seen her appear on a few different “Law & Order” titles. However, working alongside Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson in the Special Victims Unit is easily the most recognizable work she’s done. But how have the southern woman’s roots impacted her acting career?

It may surprise “Law & Order: SVU” fans to learn that the Amanda Rollins character was initially intended to be from Pittsburgh. It certainly wouldn’t fit with the southern background Kelli Giddish brings to the table. Yet, even with the hint of a Georgia accent that Giddish tried to “turn off,” she landed the role. Why? Well, she credits her success to her sensibility as a southern woman.

“Well, you know, it wasn’t a hindrance. I don’t know whether it was a help or not. But I think I can turn it a little bit off. I think the sensibility of being a southern woman has definitely helped. So it’s not the accent. It’s the sensibility, I think, that carries through more than anything else,” Giddish told Smashing Interviews recently.

“Law & Order: SVU” liked what they saw in Giddish so much that they changed the character completely. They wrote Detective Amanda Rollins to reflect the natural sensibilities of the actor portraying her. Instead of Pittsburgh, Rollins transferred to New York from Atlanta.

Now, 10 years after landing her role on “Law & Order: SVU,” Kelli Giddish has become a fan favorite. There is something undeniably compelling about her southern charm against the gritty backdrop of New York City. Giddish is still in the relatively early stages of her career, so it’ll be exciting to see what kind of role she brings her sensibilities to next.

The ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Joked About How She Avoided Speaking to Her Grandmother Before Auditions Early On During Career

Though Kelli Giddish’s roots haven’t hindered her career, having a thick southern accent narrows an aspiring actor’s options. The “Law & Order: SVU” star had enough talent and personality to overcome her twang. But early on in her career, she did everything she could to tone it down.

Hilariously, that meant avoiding conversations with her impossibly southern grandma, Theodosia. The older woman’s accent brought Giddish back to her childhood and made covering up her own accent a hopeless proposition.

“I know that I couldn’t talk to my grandmama, Theodosia, before any auditions in my 20s because after talking to her, all of a sudden, ‘Hey’ had nine syllables in it (laughs). So I couldn’t talk to her on the days I had auditions because it just keeps going. I can’t turn it off (laughs),” Giddish continued in the interview.