By Grace Gavilanes
Updated Jan 23, 2015 @ 7:15 am
Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images, Everett Collection

Happy birthday, Mariska Hargitay! The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit actress turns 51 today. Although Hargitay has been working on the long-running spin-off show for more than 15 years, her character has recently garnered major attention for serving as namesake of Taylor Swift's kitten, Detective Olivia Benson. Cat talk aside, the actress has also kept up her philanthropy efforts by designing a chic pendant, alongside Me & Ro designer Robin Renzi, to aid in the fight against sexual assault and domestic violence—proving that she's a star in her own right. In honor of Hargitay's birthday, we're taking a look back at her transformation, from high school student to Golden Globe winner.