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Kelli Giddish's Law & Order Debut Saw Her Playing A Very Different Character

When Christopher Meloni left "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" in 2011, the actor, who had been portraying Detective Elliot Stabler for twelve seasons, left big shoes to fill. So big, in fact, that two new characters, Nick Amaro and Amanda Rollins, joined the series in his stead. As the hotheaded Amaro, Danny Pino lasted four seasons on "SVU." His one-time partner, meanwhile, became one of the longest-running characters in the series.

Season 24 will mark Kelli Giddish's exit from "Law & Order: SVU" as Detective Amanda Rollins after more than ten years. A transfer from the Atlanta, Rollins endured plenty of hardships during her tenure on "SVU." Executive producer Julie Martin assures viewers that Rollins will exit positively regarding her relationship with Peter Scanavino's Dominick Carisi.

Although Giddish has portrayed Rollins for nearly 250 episodes of "SVU," viewers may be surprised to learn that the departing detective wasn't Giddish's first role in the "Law & Order" universe.

Giddish had roles on SVU and Criminal Intent before landing the role of Rollins

Long before Kelli Giddish made her "SVU" debut as Amanda Rollins, the actress appeared as an entirely different character in a Season 8 episode. Credited as Kara Bawson in the episode "Outsider," Giddish plays a victim integral to Fin Tutuola's (Ice-T) pursuit of a serial rapist (via IMDb).

Giddish isn't the only "SVU" cast member to play a small part in the series before eventually nabbing a bigger role. Diane Neal, best known for playing Senior Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak, first appeared in a Season 3 episode as a lawyer named Amanda Chase. Similarly, Peter Scanavino had an early "SVU" role before signing on to play Carisi.

But "SVU" wasn't the only series in the "Law & Order" universe in which Giddish appeared. A few months after her "SVU" debut in January of 2007, the actress secured a role in a Season 7 episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." Giddish was credited as Dana Stipe, a professional diver who's a suspect.

Though Giddish's role on "SVU" has been a constant for over a decade, the actress admitted that it's fun to bring the character outside of the usual "Law & Order" orbit. "It's so great coming onto another set," Giddish said of her crossover episode on "Chicago P.D." (via ScreenSlam). "You get to play the same character, but it's a completely different set ... It's all hand-held stuff, so the style is a little different than 'SVU.'"

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).