Most of us know actress Marisol Nichols, 46, as Veronica Lodge’s (Camila Mendes) mom, Hermione, on the hit teen drama “Riverdale.”
However, she plays a much more important role when the cameras aren’t rolling. Nichols uses her acting skills to lure child sex traffickers into traps, effectively putting them behind bars and helping bring justice to their victims.
What Inspired Nichols?
When Nichols was 11, she was assaulted by a group of boys she went to a party with. Understandably, the traumatic experience changed her. She said, "It changed the entire trajectory of my life in a day." Like many survivors of child sexual abuse, Nichols turned to drugs as a coping mechanism. She was still using drugs when her acting career took off in the late ‘90s. But after filming her first movie in 1997, she began to get clean.
"It changed the entire trajectory of my life in a day."
She then guest-starred on plenty of crime dramas like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Law and Order: SVU, Cold Case, and Criminal Minds throughout her career and became fascinated with how law enforcement handled sex crimes. She decided to use her acting skills for a greater purpose and got involved in fighting sex trafficking.
Nichols’ Undercover Work
Marie Claire followed Nichols along on a sting to catch a child predator. She was quick to acknowledge the importance of getting involved in the situation. She said, "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."
Nichols uses her acting skills to help catch sexual predators. Sometimes she plays the role of a parent or pimp, and other times she plays the child. When Marie Claire followed her, she was playing a parent on a hook-up app designed for men who want to have sex with children. She is also playing the role of the child, using her acting skills to make herself sound like a young girl.
Nichols uses her acting skills to help catch sexual predators. Sometimes she plays the role of a parent or pimp, and other times she plays the child.
She’s been volunteering for roles in child sex trafficking stings like these for the past five years. She isn’t paid for the role. She does this out of the goodness of her own heart to help put child sex traffickers where they belong: behind bars and far away from any child they can harm. She told Marie Claire of what it felt like to finally catch a predator. She said, “These guys look like normal people. And you’re pretending that you just happily and eagerly set up children for them to have sex with. To watch his eyes” she continued, speaking of the sick pleasure these predators evidenced when they discussed the crimes they wanted to perform “you want to kick him in the balls and beat the hell out of him.”
Foundation for a Slavery Free World
It’s common to assume that child sex trafficking is something that only happens in third-world countries, but it happens in the United States and the rest of the West more often than most think. According to dosomething.org, “In 2018, over half (51.6%) of the criminal human trafficking cases active in the U.S. were sex trafficking cases involving only children.”
"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."
In 2014, Nichols decided to create the Foundation for a Slavery Free World to help fight this crisis. Their mission statement says, “The vision of the Foundation for a Slavery Free World is to eradicate all forms of modern day slavery worldwide. Whether it’s in the form of adult or child sex slavery, slave labor, or debt bondage.”
Nichols was honored for starting the foundation back in 2016 by former President Barack Obama. When discussing her foundation, she said, "Once you dive down this rabbit hole, it’s hard to turn it off; you can’t un-know it at all. And so I’ve tried and will continue to try to give a voice to this issue, lend whatever I can to help make a difference and to mobilize people to stand together to put an end to this because to me, the biggest problem of it is that most people don’t even know it occurs. Good people don’t know. And if good people don’t know about it, we can’t do anything about it."
What You Can Do
If you’re interested in helping to fight child sex trafficking, the two most important things to do are to research and to donate to reputable organizations. Some of the best ones to research and donate to are Nichols’ own Foundation for a Slavery Free World, Saving Innocence, and World's Children.
If you’re interested in helping to fight child sex trafficking, the two most important things to do are to research and to donate to reputable organizations.
Since many child sex trafficking victims come from people who use the foster care system to facilitate this abuse, it’s also important for good people to be involved in the foster care system to give these children good homes. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, research how to become a foster parent in your state.
Child sex trafficking is a serious issue that happens much more often than we think. It’s important to acknowledge Nichols’ bravery for getting involved and to find ways to get involved ourselves. It only takes a few good people to help turn a child sex trafficking victim’s life around, so why not do what you can to help?