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Jamie Gray Hyder opens up about her Law & Order: Special Victims Unit exit

Jamie Gray Hyder
Jamie Gray Hyder is leaving Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in Season 23. Pic credit: NBC

Jamie Gray Hyder is speaking further about her Law & Order: Special Victims Unit exit. 

While promoting her new Hallmark Movies Now Christmas film Sugar Plum Twist, the actress discusses more of her sudden departure from the hit series and what could be next for Kat Tamin. 

Kat bids goodbye

Introduced in Season 21, Kat Tamin was a top detective for the Special Victims Unit. While she had a tough learning curve, Kat settled in quickly with the team, helping advocate for victims, including a cousin.

Not much was known about Kat’s background, although it was revealed she had a girlfriend. That’s what made it jarring when the Season 23 premiere had Kat shot and wounded during a case. 

While she recovered, Kat decided to leave, not able to keep up with the hectic pressure of SVU and try to find a new path for herself.

Kat wasn’t alone as Chief Garland (Demore Barnes) also left in the episode, tired of the politics of the NYPD.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight to promote her Hallmark Movies Now film Sugar Plum Twist, Hyder spoke about her feelings on the exit, which was clearly not her choice. 

“The No. 1 thing you have to learn, if you want to go into show business, is that a majority of decisions that are made that impact you usually have nothing to do with you. It’s a hard reality, but one that you’re serving yourself better the sooner you can get that in your head. So for me, my time on SVU was so incredibly educational and really built my confidence.

My ending came a little bit more abruptly than I would’ve anticipated, but SVU has been doing it that way for a long time. I think it keeps the fans on their toes. Do I wish there was a different outcome? Of course, but I leave that experience with such a surplus of knowledge and experience that I’m grateful that it happened at all.”

Hyder added that she was happy about Kat showcasing her Lebanese heritage and LGBTQ representation. 

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“I think Kat really was chock-full of representation and of speaking for voices that maybe have not been as prominently represented on the show in the past. I take great pride in what she provided to not only the show, but to the fanbase. She had more of a progressive voice, which I think resonated with some people. And for me personally, getting to represent my Lebanese heritage as a part of who I am in this character that has nothing to do with my heritage. That, for me, is a huge win.”

Could Kat return?

Given Benson told Kat, “the door is always open” when she left, the question is if Kat could return. Hyder discussed that, and how she’s happy the fans have been supportive of her and upset about Kat leaving.

“Well, she’s not dead! So that’s a good thing. It’s always an option, I think, for characters to come back on SVU, so long as you exit alive. One of the best parts of SVU is the fanbase. They’re vocal. Whether it’s good or bad, they’re vocal, they’re involved, they’re interacting. And I think for a lot of the fans who hadn’t previously had representation on the show, my character made it even more enjoyable for them to be a part of the fanbase.

That’s one of the most rewarding parts of SVU is hearing from the fans, especially those who’ve experienced traumatic situations that we discuss on the show. To be an ear for those people is a privilege. It’s a bit surreal to know that something that you’re doing in a fictional world is having a positive impact on somebody in the real world. That’s not something I’m sure I’ll ever get used to, but I know for many, many, many fans, they felt comforted by Kat’s presence on the show and that’s something that feels like the ultimate win for me.”

For now, Hyder is happy with Sugar Plum Twist, which debuted on Hallmark Movies Now this week. She plays a former ballerina who attempts to modernize the production of The Nutcracker and sparks with the traditionalist director. Hyder explains she needed a good change of pace from playing Kat.

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“I’ve just come off of working two years on SVU and dealing with such dark and heavy subject matter that the idea of doing something lighter and more uplifting really appeals to me and my brain. So, I said yes.”

While fans are hopeful Kat returns down the line, Hyder appears happy to be moving on to some brighter roles.

Sugar Plum Twist now streaming on Hallmark Movies Now. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 returns with new episodes Thursday, December 9 at 9/8c on NBC.

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