Riverdale actor Marisol Nichols puts her performance skills to use on her days off to help catch child sex offenders.
Nichols is perhaps best known for her role as Hermione Lodge on Riverdale or as Chevy Chase’s daughter in Vegas Vacation, but she also deserves recognition for the harrowing roles she takes on to help police catch paedophiles and human traffickers.
The actor first became interested in the trafficking world while doing research for the role of a police officer, which saw her go on ride-alongs with homicide and narcotics detectives.
Nichols opened up to Marie Claire about her experiences, saying:
[Going on ride-alongs] gave me mad respect for these [officers]. It sparked my interest in the trafficking world, realising and really being on the other side of the underbelly of society.
During an acting dry spell a few years ago, Nichols decided to use her time off to learn everything she could about human trafficking by speaking with organisations and individuals who worked on the issue.
She started her nonprofit organisation, Foundation for a Slavery Free World, in 2014, and now spends her spare time volunteering with law enforcement.
While organising an awareness conference, Nichols connected with a former special agent for the Department of Homeland Security who worked privately on internet crimes against kids and child sex tourism.
He invited her to witness an undercover operation in Haiti, and she was later asked if she wanted to take part in an operation involving an American man who liked to travel abroad for child sex parties.
Nichols went undercover with a camera and audio equipment while pretending to be someone who arranged for children to have sex with strangers. The actor said she had to try and get information ‘so that he could lead us back to the next party that’s in Mexico, the next party that’s in the Dominican Republic, and introduce us to the traffickers’.
She admitted that in the middle of the operation she found herself thinking: ‘What the hell did I get myself into? How the hell did I get here?’, but following a successful sting she was hooked.
Nichols now volunteers to take on the role of a parent pimping out a child, or the role of child being pimped out, in order to catch offenders.
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Marie Claire article is online! Please read and share. Link in my bio. I really couldn’t be more excited for this to finally come out, not because of “look what I’m doing” but because of all of you and millions of others who will read about this issue and horrifyingly, learn how easy it is to buy a kid. This issue continues to exist because of secrecy, because people are unaware of what’s happening to our children and unable to contemplate something like this. So part of my passion has always been to raise awareness, so that crimes like these don’t go unnoticed, people are educated, and hopefully one day put an end to the words “child sex trafficking”. However, raising awareness only goes so far, and I had to do more…had to do something. This article represents what I’ve been doing. Thank you @marieclairemag for covering this issue and to @ehayasaki for this beautifully written piece. Please read. Please share.
She helps create ‘adverts’ online and speaks to solicitors on the phone while feigning the voice of a drugged, vulnerable child. Once Nichols and the officers have received interest from their posts, the actor dresses in a hoodie in order to fool offenders should they catch a glimpse of her through the hotel window where they have arranged to meet.
One member of law enforcement commended Nichols’ acting skills, saying:
The voice. When she gets on [the phone], it’s over.
Though Nichols is aware ‘people don’t want to hear the dirty details’ about trafficking, she stares it in the face because she knows that is the only way to catch those involved.
If good people don’t know about it, it will keep happening, because good people are the only ones who will do anything about it.
When she was 11 years old, Nichols was gang raped, an experience she says ‘changed the entire trajectory’ of her life. She started using drugs and continued using them well into her 20s, but got her life back on track after finding religion.
In the past five years, Nichols has participated in a half a dozen child-sex stings around the world.
She described all child predators as ‘disgusting’, but focuses personally on trafficking because she wants to find the people who ‘would show up knowing that this kid is being held against her will’.
I go after those guys because, to me, they are the most dangerous.
Through the operations, Nichols has helped law enforcement catch dozens of men.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111.
You can contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.
Male Survivors Partnership is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. You can contact the organisation on their free helpline 0808 800 5005, open 9am–5pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 8am–8pm Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10am – 2pm Saturdays.
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