Martin Schoeller for TIME
April 16, 2015

Taylor Swift: megawatt talent, an extraordinary spirit, an impossibly charming blend of impishness, poise and radiance to spare. All of it combines to rock me back on my heels every time I see her. Both literally and figuratively, she’s a woman who writes her own songs. That makes for music that’s personal, of the moment and impossible to resist.

I’m amazed at how much earned wisdom Taylor threads into her work. She seems tuned in to the greater good, and she embraces—thoughtfully and authentically—the chance to contribute to the world. I’m always trying to find the best words to talk to my kids (and myself) about growing up, but you can’t top her beautifully articulated advice. The haters are gonna hate, but, well, shake it off. She illuminates our inner music that lets us dance to our own beat.[time-related-module]

Along with her staggering list of accomplishments, perhaps the most exciting thing about Taylor is that she’s just getting started with what she plans to mine from her fierce, curious, boundlessly talented and beautiful heart.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that she named her cat after me.

Hargitay, an actor and activist, stars as Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU

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