In the short-lived TV series “Raising the Bar,” Gloria Reuben played Rosalind Whitman, the boss of an idealistic public defender. In “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” Reuben is on the prosecution side of criminal cases, as she reprises her guest-starring role as Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Danielson.
In a “Law & Order: SVU” episode titled “Merchandise” (which airs October 6 on NBC at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time), Christine Danielson tangles with the disturbing crime of human trafficking. in a recent telephone conference call with reporters, Reuben talked about how doing this episode affected her and what some frightening human trafficking statistics are in real life.
What do you enjoy about playing Christine Danielson?
My favorite thing is the badge. No, I’m just kidding. There’s something about having a badge that just makes you feel so official. Well, this is just my second time playing here, but I love as I often do in these kinds of rules. I love having the opportunity to represent a woman in a leadership role. I love the whole law thing. I love the whole law and cop thing.
I always have since I was a little girl. So it’s always kind of fun to be able to play that certain aspect of life that I have clearly no experience with in my real world. So it’s really kind of fun to dive into that. And most importantly, it’s always great to be on “Law & Order: SVU” and to be able to work together again creatively with Neal since it, , since we have a long history together.
It’s a little bit shocking and a little unnerving to think about how many years we’ve known each other in one aspect and yet really so great to know that we have known each other for so long. So it’s always great to work with Neal [Baer, executive producer of “Law & Order” and of course with Mariska [Hargitay] and Chris [Meloni]. And it’s always great fun on the set. And the stories are always very intense. I kind of like that kind of intensity.
You mentioned the badge. Do U.S. Attorneys often have badges?
Yes. And we like to hand them out. It’s not like a cop. As you see in the episode, there’s a special badge for the U.S. Marshal type. She doesn’t walk around with a badge around her neck, but it was a not-very-funny joke that was supposed to be funny.
Did you find any disturbing facts about human trafficking for this episode?
Yeah. It’s kind of one of those things where when you find out the details and the numbers and specifics about certain things that we all or a lot of us in this country think are happening elsewhere, whether it be the HIV pandemic or whether it be human-and-child trafficking or whether it be climate change, all of the above and a whole bunch of other issues. But when I read the script for the first time and read the statistics about between 11,000 and 14,000 young people here in the United States that are either in slavery or I child trafficking. I mean, that number is outrageous. Or knowing that worldwide it’s minimally 75,000. And that’s what we know about.
Now there are three specific instances that Danielson talks about to Mariska and to Chris. And one of them being a woman who sells her young daughter for $5,000 to a middle-aged man and this man ends up sharing this young girl with his friends. Or a 9-year-old girl who’s dropped on the street by her grandmother in Portland, just kind of left to fend for herself. And this young girl’s pimp ends up charging more for prepubescents because she’s 9 years old. Or a 12-yearold that’s sold, basically kept as a slave in a suburban family in Minneapolis. I mean these are just three of these 11,000 to 14,000 stories that are going on.
It’s kind of a Catch 22, because clearly at this time in particular, so many of us in this country are struggling in many, many ways. And yet at the same time these kinds of atrocities are going on, and the awareness about them is very minimal. When this type of an episode comes along that is as shocking as this is and yet in a way is necessary as it is, it feels to me personally, it carries a much greater weight in a good way, in a much greater responsibility because it is such an extraordinarily important issue that we need to think more about and we need to do something more about.
Was there anything from your experience on “Raising the Bar” that you were able to use it now in “Law & Order: SVU”?
Well, they’re two different animals and yet they’re similar in a way … Both characters are attorneys and both are very overworked. There was quite a bit more fulfillment in this one episode, just because … I very much loved “Raising the Bar” also. And I have to say that I really felt like we were just getting our wheels under us, kike the stories were really coming together even better.
And us as a cast of actors, we were really gelling, and then unfortunately, the show didn’t get picked up. But much to my frustration, I didn’t have the opportunity to necessarily have a lot to chew on … I wanted to do more while I was on “Raising the Bar.” So in this one particular episode, it felt very fulfilling to do this particular role for this particular story because she’s really in it. She really gets to dive in, and clearly by what’s written and the actions that are taken, this has been something that she’s been working on for a while. And it means a great deal to her. It’s not just kind of another one of a million or a thousand cases that she has to deal with but this is really personal to her. And so I enjoyed that. And that I would say would be the difference.
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