The Transformation Of Kelli Giddish From Childhood To Law And Order: SVU

Born and raised in Cumming, Georgia, Giddish began performing as a child, appearing in school plays beginning as early as first grade. But it was her high school drama teacher, Yatesy Harvey, who motivated her and helped her hone her craft. “I did her drama camp, which might sound cheesy to the people who don’t know what it was, but she took about 20-25 kids to the north Georgia mountains or wherever she could find a house that was willing to rent to 25 middle and high schoolers for a week every summer,” Giddish told the Forsyth County News, the local paper of her hometown, in 2017. “She just inspired a fierce curiosity and very high standards of what acting was and how much dedication it took and rehearsal and we would do plays every night.”

“She had full confidence in us as teenagers and treated us with the utmost respect,” Giddish said. “When people treat you like that when you’re that young, you kind of say, ‘Oh, ok, they are listening to me and I need to step up and actually earn the respect that they’re showing me.’”

Upon graduation from high school in 1998, Giddish took what she learned from Harvey and put it to use at the University of Evansville in Indiana where she majored in performance arts. As a senior, she was named an Irene Ryan Award finalist (via NBC). As described on the Kennedy Center website, the awards provide “recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education,” and finalists are invited to perform at Kennedy Center. 

Like many aspiring actors, Giddish moved to New York after college, where she landed roles in a few plays, including “Bobbi Boland” opposite Farrah Fawcett. But television soon came calling.

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