Stephanie March: What Judith Light Told the “SVU” Star About 'People Who Don't Have Children' That Was 'Amazing' to Hear (Exclusive)

The actress caught up with PEOPLE ahead of her 50th birthday and shared a sweet anecdote about the wisdom she learned from her legendary costar

<p>Andrew H. Walker/Getty</p> Judith Light and Stephanie March in 2006.

Andrew H. Walker/Getty

Judith Light and Stephanie March in 2006.

Stephanie March will always admire Judith Light.

The actress and philanthropist starred alongside the two-time Tony winner in seasons 3 and 4 of Law & Order: SVU, and March still remembers the bit of wisdom that Light, 75, shared with her while on set.

“She said something to me a long time ago that made a huge impression on me. She's so cool. And she's just such a great actor and such a nice woman. She's just all the things. And when somebody who is all the things is chatting with you on set, you listen, because she's about to impart some serious wisdom as well as kindness," March, 49, recalls.

"And [Judith] said, 'Stephanie, let me tell you something about people who don't have children.' And I said, 'Yes.'"

Light's response was equal parts simple and profound: "She said, 'We're fine.’”

<p>by Eric Liebowitz/NBCU Photo Bank/getty</p> Judith Light as Bureau Chief Elizabeth Donnelly and Stephanie March as A.D.A. Alexandra Cabot in 'Law & Order: SVU'

by Eric Liebowitz/NBCU Photo Bank/getty

Judith Light as Bureau Chief Elizabeth Donnelly and Stephanie March as A.D.A. Alexandra Cabot in 'Law & Order: SVU'

Related: Judith Light Wins First Primetime Emmy for Guest Role in Poker Face: This 'Means So Many Different Things'

Light joined SVU in 2002 portraying Judge Elizabeth Donnelly, a recurring role she held for the next eight years, often sharing the screen with March’s Assistant District Attorney character Alex Cabot.

The two have kept in touch and when Light is “in town" they will try their best to see each other, says March. When schedules get too packed, Light and March communicate via email.

That on-set moment years ago meant a great deal to March.

“It was kind of an amazing thing to hear at the time because, it wasn't necessarily planned, but for a variety of reasons, I did not have children of my own, and I believe that that is part of my path," she says.

<p>Cindy Ord/Getty</p> Stephanie March attends the Clooney Foundation for Justice's The Albies in 2023

Cindy Ord/Getty

Stephanie March attends the Clooney Foundation for Justice's The Albies in 2023

And all of this isn't to say March, who has been married to investor Dan Benton since 2017, doesn’t also laud women who do have children — she does. In fact, she wants to do all she can to be supportive. 

“I believe helping women and helping women who have children is my role and I am really fulfilled by that," she says. "I feel because of what Judith told me, I don't think, ‘Oh, maybe I’m missing something,’ or I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm not. I am where I'm supposed to be, and so I want to use it and go with it. I owe her enormous debt of gratitude for giving me the freedom and the space to look at where I could be most useful, and be useful there.”

Related: Why Judith Light Says Living Apart Is the Secret to Her Lasting Marriage

The philanthropist, who will celebrate her 50th birthday on July 23, serves on the board of both the Panzi Foundation, an organization dedicated to ending the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and OneKid OneWorld, which is focused on increasing access to education and opportunities for women and girls, especially, in Kenya and Central America.

“I felt like my passion really was to advocate for women and girls who are survivors of sexual violence, and how sexual violence deprives us of our body autonomy and often our legal rights and our right to work. And it is, to me, where women and families are destroyed the most violently and the most quickly. I thought, 'this is where I want to put my energy and my efforts.'”

March has traveled to Africa countless times with both organizations, and she says that one of the smallest changes with the biggest impact that she's seen firsthand is with the use of descriptive language.

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“I was at the hospital almost exactly a year ago, and there were some signs over the doors, especially into where the survivors and people who are recovering from different surgeries are recuperating. There's some signage on the doors, and it used to say ‘victim's waiting room’ or ‘victim's recovery room.’ And now all the signs that said that, they've been scraped off, and [now] they say, ‘survivors’. Everything says ‘survivor,'" March says, "because words matter.”

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