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Up Close with Kadia Saraf



Movie Marker Magazine got up close with Kadia Saraf to spill the tea on her role in ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ with Mariska Hargitay, and Ice T.

Thank you for chatting with us today. Congratulations on your recurring role on ‘Law and Order: SVU’. We are excited to learn more about your character, but first, we understand you grew up between Switzerland and Israel. Can you tell us about life growing up?

I was born in Bern, Switzerland and from age 4 to 14 I lived in the mountains of Galilee in the north of Israel where I mostly climbed trees and rode horses. As a family, we moved back to Switzerland when I was 14. After High School I got a degree in Structural Engineering from BBM in Kreuzlingen. And immediately after, I moved back to Tel-Aviv, in Israel. I started auditioning, served as a Medic/Ambulance driver at MDA, Israel’s national medical emergency service and trained in Kenpo Jitsu. I won the Israeli National Championship title in 2001. In 2004 I packed my bags and moved to New York where I have been a working actor ever since.

You have a unique background and life story, can you tell us about that?

I’m of Swiss and Yemeni heritage. My father is Yemeni-Israeli, and my mother is Swiss. They met in a Kibbutz in the 70’s. Neither spoke each other’s language so they had to learn. That’s where I got my aptitude for languages. I speak English, Hebrew, German, Swiss German, a little French, a little Arabic and now I’m adding ASL to the quiver. Honestly, I live by the growth mindset. I’m constantly learning new things, especially things that take me out of my comfort zone.  For example, I’m currently working on a west Texas dialect. No easy feat.

You are in ‘Law and Order: SVU’. Tell us about your involvement.

I’ve been playing US attorney Anya Avital since season 23. In 2021 I started studying ASL and I’ve gotten to know several members of the Deaf community. I’ve heard some stories that really affected me, and I realized that SVU could be a great platform to tell those stories. So, we brought the producers a story idea about Deaf survivors of sexual assault and the struggles they face in dealing with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. For example, interpreters are scarce and generally most police officers don’t know even basic ASL, arrest protocols are insensitive and often dangerous, and the list goes on. SVU incorporated our story ideas into that episode and myself and my husband Terry Serpico were credited with “story by”. We both acted in the episode, and we even had a scene together, which was fun. As you can tell, I’m very passionate about this topic and I’m so proud that the Deaf community has supported the episode. The episode is called “Jumped In” and it aired on January 5th this year.

How did you prepare yourself for the role?

I did some research on what a US attorney does. I created a backstory for Anya but other than that I make sure I’m off book and show up to work on time.

What was your favorite moment on set?

To know that I was part of the creative team that put this episode together and then to watch it come to life every day on set. It was deeply satisfying.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

You are needed in the world! Listen to your heart’s whisper no matter how loud the outside noise gets, because it’ll get loud and convincing. Just keep going because your heart knows!

What’s coming up next for you?

I am currently working on the development of a limited series called “Shoshana”. It’s the incredible true story of my great grandmother who at 23 years old became a widow and was forced to save her 7 children from the Orphan’s Decree in 1930’s Yemen.

Also, you can catch me on ‘Blue Bloods’ Season 13, Episode 13 coming out February 10, 2023.

How can people find you?

I am active on Instagram, Facebook and my website is

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