Law and Order season 21

Law & Order season 21: Odelya Halevi on how the revival “challenges” her

Odelya Halevi has a special connection to Law & Order — she was inspired by watching the series as a child in Yemen. “I said ‘Oh, mom, I want to be like her. I want to be a lawyer,’” the actress recalled. “My mom’s like ‘No, you just want to be one on TV.’”

When NBC revives the show for Season 21 on Thursday night, she’ll be proving them both right. Odelya stars in the revived series as Assistant District Attorney Samantha Maroun, the second chair to Nolan Price (Hannibal’s Hugh Dancy). It’s the first time Law & Order has had an entirely brand-new prosecuting team, and she told me that audiences can expect a very active dynamic between the two attorneys.

“She could easily just take orders from Nolan, but she’s there to challenge him and make him less afraid to operate outside the box,” Odelya — who will be recognizable to NBC viewers from the supernatural drama Midnight, Texas — explained. “Challenging him to be a better ADA by not simply following the rules all the time. She sees herself becoming a lead prosecutor one day, and is working to navigate things that way now.

“[Samantha] is a strong female character who worked hard to get to where she is, and is not afraid to speak her mind in a world that is generally ruled by men,” she continued. “She is opinionated and she’s there for justice — even for the accused. Even though she is a tough cookie, she has a big heart; [she] is sensitive and relatable.”

Thursday’s season premiere has Samantha and Nolan handed a complicated first case that has more snags in it than the traditional Law & Order trial. The way Samantha is developed is different, too; she still fills the junior attorney role of acting as a sounding board for her boss, but she also has several great scenes of her own right out of the gate. Her character is proof of how far that ADA position has come since the series debuted back in 1989.

“I learned that for the first time, I can play a character [who is a] foreigner, minority and be portrayed as smart, strong, intellectual and someone who is listened to and is allowed to bring new ideas to the table, respected,” Odelya said. “There are amazing roles for women out there that are celebrated and where we are positioned as equal to our male counterparts.”

Law & Order Samantha Maroun
Odelya Halevi as ADA Samantha Maroun in Law & Order season 21. (Photo Credit: Eric Liebowitz/NBC)

The entire Law & Order franchise is known for its “ripped from the headlines” approach, with episodes that are clearly based on real-life investigations or public figures. There’s no such thing happening in the Season 21 premiere; rather, the revival lets the characters do the talking and addresses a number of important subjects through the the way they interact. Odelya explained that the season will keep being timely as it goes on.

“While the stories may seem to be based on real people and true stories, the more you get into the episodes you realize that the writers and creators are simply exploring current, relevant issues that resonate in today’s world,” she told me. “I have more knowledge now about current issues that I wouldn’t normally have read about before the show. The show challenges me and I will definitely continue to be educated more on these types of issues.”

To go from a fan of Law & Order to being a series regular on it is the kind of great story that the entertainment industry is made of. Odelya creates a new character whom longtime fans and casual viewers will love to follow, while also upholding the show’s tradition of memorable female ADAs. And for her it’s a literal dream come true. So what’s been her favorite part of this incredible experience?

“Knowing every day that I get to go to work with people who are inspiring and are ridiculously fun to be around,” she said. “I get to live this part of the dream, learning and being a part of a show that has a message and is making a difference. 

“The way this show is written is so brilliant and interesting. You get to see how having compassion for the accused is sometimes equally important as having that compassion for the victim,” Odelya reflected. “Every character in the show represents an opinion that is out there in our world. That’s one reason this show is so relatable and relevant. In this show the accused is having their backstory exposed so we can have the opportunity to be more compassionate and understanding. That can open our hearts and allow us all to hopefully be less judgmental.”

Law & Order season 21 premieres Feb. 24 at 8:00 p.m. on NBC. 

Article content is (c)2020-2022 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.

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