Mariska Hargitay is one of the most respected actresses on primetime TV, and her success on Law & Order: SVU has also made her one of the highest-paid stars on network TV. “The only reason I have the career I have is that I didn’t quit,” the actress admits in the February issue More magazine. The cover girl opened up about her thoughts on The Jay Leno Show bumping SVU, living in the shadow of her iconic mother, Jayne Mansfield, her financial worries and the constant pressure on actresses to be beautiful.

“A guy at ABC told me to change my name and get a nose job. I said, ‘You get a nose job,'” Mariska reveals in her More interview on not having the conventional movie star looks.

“I think I’m a very attractive person, but I don’t put myself in the realm of the beauty. That’s not where I get my esteem. I’m a size 8, and I feel proud of that, because it’s healthy. I’ve never felt compelled to be a skinny actress.”

Even though she is one of the highest-paid primetime actresses, Mariska still stresses about money.

“I constantly worry about money. I make a lot now, but I don’t feel that way, because I was poor and had no money for a lot longer than I’ve had it,” she said. “As an actor, if this show ends next year, then what? As an aging woman, then what? I’m saving money to live on, for the future. There are not that many roles for women, and I’ve been blessed with one of the great ones.”

SVU was affected by the late night shift when Jay Leno came on the scene for his 10 p.m. primetime talk show. The drama was forced to move into the 9 p.m. slot because of The Jay Leno Show.

“It ruined our numbers. The first four episodes, we were considerably down because nobody knew when the show was on. Finally, we’re starting to find our audience again.”

As a result of Jay’s low ratings, and the changing late night lineup, Mariska wishes the network would reconsider moving SVU back to its original time slot.

“I hope we go back to where we belong. It was doing so well. Why mess with it?”

Mariska opens up on being compared to her mother Jayne Mansfield, an iconic sex symbol and Hollywood star in the 1940s and ’50s.

“I can never compete, so I don’t try. It’s mega über, it’s legendary, it’s iconic. Being a sex symbol is not my thing; it’s not where I shine.”

Mariska comments on “losing her home too early” after the death of her mother.

“I’m getting it back through Peter and August, and, strangely, through the foundation. It’s about following the signs, listening to your inner voice. I’m living my life, and I know that this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Playing detective Olivia Benson is a hard job, and in October, Mariska landed awkwardly during a stunt and didn’t realize until months later that she had suffered a collapsed lung.

“I thought it was a pulled rib. I’m pretty tough. When I couldn’t breathe anymore, I got an X-ray, and they couldn’t believe I was walking… I was doing stunts when I was pregnant. I’d fall, jump on guys. Now there are scenes when I have to run, and I’ll only take a few steps. Everyone is super-careful of me.”

Mariska started the foundation Joyful Heart, which helps survivors of sexual assault and is an important cause in her life.

“Doing something about it takes away some of my sadness. We can get closer to cures by shining a light on [the abuse]. I liken it to what happened with AA 15 years ago, where there’s not a stigma to it. We’d love to see that happen to sexual assault.”

Mariska’s full cover story can be found in the February issue of More Magazine on newsstands January 26th.

Also in this issue:
• Everything you need to know about Carrie Underwood‘s wedding!
• The feud between Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie is just getting worse.
• Tag along with Jersey Shore‘s Ronnie and Sammi on their romantic night out in NYC!
…and all the latest news, fashion and photos!

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