Call it Law & Order toddler edition.
During a recent trip to the park, Mariska Hargitay says her 2-year-old daughter Amaya Josephine served up some playground justice.
“My daughter is the boss of me,” Hargitay, 49, told PEOPLE at the Law & Order SVU premiere party on Thursday. “She is so strong, her independence inspires me.”
The tot’s qualities were recently put to the test when a playmate began bullying her brother, Andrew Nicolas, 2.
“Amaya went up to her and said ‘Stop it.’ She’s two years old and she goes, ‘Stop it. No!'” says Hargitay, who adopted Amaya and Andrew in 2011.
According to the proud mama, Amaya’s good deed didn’t stop there. “Then, the little girl pushed her and she didn’t push her back! It was so simple, but so beautiful to me,” says the actress. “My kids are my teachers.”
In a chilling premiere episode, Hargitay returns as detective Olivia Benson on the 15th season of Law & Order: SVU, airing Sept. 25 on NBC. Her character is abducted and abused in gruesome scenes that Hargitay says took real life courage to shoot.
“It was brutal,” she recalls of filming the heavy material. “Definitely the hardest, most challenging work I’ve ever done. It called on me to be brave.”
Lucky for her, bravery runs in the family.
– Janine Rayford Rubenstein