Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
SUBSCRIBE
/ Source: TODAY
By Gina Vivinetto

"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" is celebrating a major milestone!

The NBC drama has been renewed for a 21st season, surpassing "Gunsmoke" and the original "Law & Order" as the longest-running live-action prime-time series in TV history.

And no one's prouder than Mariska Hargitay. After all, she's been there from the start!

On Friday, the Emmy-winning actress, who's played Olivia Benson on the series since it began in September 1999, shared a short video counting off the show's record 21 seasons.

"20 years ago we started a conversation. We’re not finished," she wrote in the caption. "I’m profoundly proud of how far we've come. Prouder still of how far we will go. We have broken this ground together."

Mariska Hargitay as Det. Olivia Benson during the groundbreaking show's first season.NBC

Hargitay's character got her start as a young NYPD detective who was transferred into the department's Special Victims Unit, where she and longtime partner Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) investigated crimes of sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence.

After Stabler resigned after season 12, Benson went through a few more partners before being promoted to lieutenant and taking on the role of the squad's (fierce!) commanding officer.

In an official press release NBC shared Friday, Hargitay, who in real life advocates for victims of sexual violence, said the show brings "important" stories to television.

The season 1 cast of "SVU": (l-r) Dean Winters (Det. Brian Cassidy), Dann Florek (Capt. Donald Cragen), Mariska Hargitay (Det. Olivia Benson), Christopher Meloni (Det. Elliot Stabler), Michelle Hurd (Det. Monique Jeffries) and Richard Belzer (Det. John Munch).NBC

"I'm deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history today," said Hargitay.

"The longevity and continued success of 'SVU' is a testament not only to the show's powerful storytelling and ability to connect with viewers, but to its necessity," she added. "We have told important stories for 20 years, and we will continue to tell them."