Wednesday, October 6, 2010
After tackling the severity of rape and the many backlogged rape kits in the American justice system, Law & Order: SVU takes on the hotbed issue of human trafficking in the October 6 episode, "Merchandise", guest starring Gloria Reuben in the role of Assistant U.S. Attorney and friend Christine Danielson. In "Merchandise", Detectives Benson (Hargitay) and Stabler (Meloni) investigate the death of a teenage girl, which exposes a human trafficking ring that forces the police to reach out to the U.S. Attorney's Office for help.
Ahead of Law & Order: SVU and "Merchandise", TheDeadbolt caught up with SVU guest star Gloria Reuben and executive producer Neal Baer to learn more about how Reuben feels about Christine Danielson and how both Gloria and Neal feel about the real issue of human trafficking in America.
THE DEADBOLT: Gloria, what do you enjoy about playing Christine Danielson?
GLORIA REUBEN: Well, this is just my second time playing her, but I love it. I often do in these kinds of roles. 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 and I always have since I was a little girl. So it's always fun to be able to play that certain aspect of life that I have clearly no experience with in my real world. It's kind of fun to dive into that.
Most importantly it's always great to be on Law & Order: SVU and to be able to work together creatively with Neal since we have such a long history together. It's a little bit shocking and unnerving to think about how many years we've known each other, on one aspect, and yet I feel great [that] we have known each other for so long. So it's always great to work with Neal and Mariska [Hargitay] and Chris [Meloni]. It's always great fun on the set and the stories are always very intense and I kind of like that intensity.
THE DEADBOLT: Do U.S. Attorney's Office staff have badges?
REUBEN: Yes, and we like to hand them out [laughs].
THE DEADBOLT: Interesting. I didn't know that.
REUBEN: Well, it's not like a cop. As you'll see in the episode, we hand out these special badges ...
NEAL BAER: It's a U.S. Marshal type of thing.
REUBEN: Right. So, it's not like she walks around with the badge around her neck. But it wasn't a very funny joke. [laughs]
BAER: She's not kidding. She gives Chris and Mariska U.S. Marshal badges on the show. She takes their badges from them and makes them into U.S. Marshals so that they can continue pursuing a case. They have to convince her and have a big fight with B.D. Wong over it, but Gloria has more power.
REUBEN: That's what I like most.
THE DEADBOLT: So Neal, what disturbing facts did you find out about human trafficking for this episode?
BAER: Actually, I'll let Gloria talk about that because that's what Gloria's character, Christina, is really about. I was actually in Boston last spring teaching at the charity school at Harvard for a day and a student came up to me and talked to me about some new research that's coming out on human trafficking, particularly looking at domestic slavery around the world and also in the United States. We don't hear much about that.
Of course we hear about sex trafficking, which is horrendous, and a lot of work is being done in that arena. But we don't hear as much about trafficking where kids are forced to work on farms and work for people in their homes and things like that. So Gloria has some of the figures in the U.S. that she actually relates on the show.
REUBEN: It's kind of one of those things where when you find out the details and the numbers and specifics about certain things that 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 grabbed these statistics about the 14,000 young people here in the United States that are either in slavery or in child trafficking - 14,000, that number is outrageous, or knowing that worldwide it's minimally 75,000 and that's clearly what we know about.
Now there are three specific instances that Danielson talks about to Mariska and Chris, one of them being a woman who sells her young daughter for $5,000 to a middle aged man. This man ends up sharing this young girl with his friends. Or a 9 year-old girl who is dropped on the street by her grandmother in Portland and just kind of left to fend for herself, this young girl's pimp ends up charging more for prepubescent because she's 9 years-old. Or a 12 year-old that's kept as a slave in a suburban family in Minneapolis.
I mean, these are just three of these 14,000 stories that are going on. And again, 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 ways and yet at the same time these kind of atrocities are going on and the awareness of that is very minimal.
So, when this kind of an episode comes along that is as shocking as this is, and yet in a way as necessary as it is, it feels to me, personally, it carries a much greater weight in a good way. It's a much greater responsibility because it's such an extraordinarily important issue that we need to think more about and do more about