“12 years ago I did a Super Bowl commercial, and a friend of mine who is a very good friend of Sting’s invited me to his home to watch the game,” Odelya Halevi recalls. “The commercial was on TV just as Sting and I were sitting and talking, and he looks at the TV, looks at me, and asks me if it was me. As far as I'm concerned - I did my thing - Sting recognized me on TV!"
What Halevi didn’t know was that the exciting achievement would be just the opening to an impressive Hollywood career.
12 years later, Halevi is starring in one of the longest-running and most successful television shows - Law & Order. Halevi is part of the main cast, playing Samantha Maroun, an assistant district attorney.
Last year she and Sting, now close friends, came full circle. “There were a lot of promos of our show in the last Super Bowl, and he looks at the TV, sees the promo, and asks me if it’s me. He told me he would be happy to do an episode with me.”
However, that's not her only big role. Halevi even got to play in the film Black Adam, as the wife of the main character and one of Hollywood's biggest stars - Dwayne Johnson.
"I didn’t even know what I was getting into. I had to audition for a movie with a fake name and script. I was after a long day, thinking of skipping the audition, but in the end, I improvised and did a take. The next day I get a call from my manager telling me I got the part. 'You want to know what it is?' she said, 'it's Black Adam with Dwayne Johnson.' Okay, now I’m a little more excited," I replied.
When did they tell you you were gonna play his wife?
“I flew to Atlanta, still without a script and without knowing what the role was, it was all a big secret. Only on set did they tell me that I was playing his wife. I ran out and shouted, Wow! “Suddenly I’m working with the most loved person in the industry. he was really an amazing person.”
How was your first meeting?
“The director introduced us and he asked me why I accepted the part when I did not know what it was. I asked him, Do you know who you are? We laughed and it was an amazing experience.”
Halevi has lived in Los Angeles for 16 years, pursuing and fulfilling the Hollywood dream. However, she makes it clear that she hasn't forgotten the Holy Land, and is clocking up the miles on the U.S.-Israel line.
“I always visit Israel. Nearly two months a year I'm here, working and auditioning. Every time I get a chance, every vacation I have, I come straight to Israel.”
Do you miss it here?
"So much. Every time I'm here, my heart fills up again. I feel that this land draws me, and makes me humble. Every time I come to Israel, I get to know myself again, and I always discover something new.”
Halevi's current visit is a bit different, as she arrived with her partner.
“I came with my beloved, my amazing partner. This is the first time I brought him to Israel and it’s exciting.”
What did you do since you arrived?
“He met the whole family and I was basically his personal tour guide. I took him to all the special places, to Jerusalem, to the Negev, to Caesarea. I have even seen some places in Israel that I had never visited myself before."
So, spill, who is he?
"His name is Aaron Mazor. He's American and he works in real estate. We met in New York last April. It feels very right, I haven’t been in a relationship for many years, certainly not in a serious one with someone who just makes me love myself more every day, and it feels good.”
Is it important to you that your partner would have an affinity for Israel?
"Sure. He has a lot of Israeli friends, he comes from a very Jewish family, and he even fasted on Yom Kippur, I myself, however, don't fast on Kippur!”
How was the meeting with your family?
"He loved my family very much! Ever since we met them, he kept asking when we will see them again. And my family loved him as well, I just couldn’t believe it.”
How do you deal with the distance from your family? 16 years of living abroad is a long time.
"It's very difficult. I miss them so much. I am the second among 6 brothers and sisters. When I left, my youngest brother was eight years old. Now they're all grown up, and my sister is married. It’s a whole life I haven’t been a part of.”
Do you ever talk about Israel on set?
“We have a lot of Jews on the set, so we always talk about Israel. I had to work over last Passover eve, so we had a mini-seder on set.”
Do you ever get to explain Israel to people who don’t really understand?
“Look, on the set, people are very careful and don't tend to talk politics, genders, or sex. But with friends or during events I attend, I talk about Israel, I'm very interested and passionate about what is going on in the country. So, when someone says something bad or something that is far-fetched because they don't know the whole story, it brings out the bad side of me."