Actress, Activist, & Founder and Executive Director of Slavery Free World
You may know Marisol Nichols as Hermione Lodge in the hugely popular Warner Bros and Netflix critically-acclaimed hit television series Riverdale. To some, the Chicago native is an actress, but to others she’s a hero. After learning about the rampant issue of human trafficking, Marisol has worked with law enforcement and state and federal legislators for over a decade to help catch child sexual predators and human traffickers by going undercover. She also founded Foundation for a Slavery Free World, a non-profit that produces events in Hollywood to raise awareness on trafficking and awards individuals and other non-profit groups for their heroic work in this field.
Garrett: What’s up people. I’m Garrett Johnson and you’re listening to consider before consuming a podcast by fight the new drug. Before we jump into this conversation, we want to let you know that during this conversation we discussed child sexual abuse and sex trafficking listener discretion is advised. Today’s conversation is with Marisol Nichols, the Marisol Nichols. She’s an actress, entrepreneur activist, and mom, she’s done so much to stop the demand for sex trafficking, including going undercover on sting operations to save children. Let’s just jump into the conversation. We hope you enjoy this episode. Consider Before Consuming.
Garrett: Hello. How are you?
Marisol: I’m good. I’m so excited that you guys do amazing work, like amazing, amazing, amazing work.
Garrett: Thanks for saying that. We, we appreciate your support. It means a lot and I’m so thanks for taking the time out of your day to make this happen. It’s not like you’re busy or anything. [laughter]
Marisol: [laughter] Oh, I’m so happy to do it.
Garrett: Okay, good. Um, well let’s just jump into it if you’re okay with that. Um, I was wanted to start off with the question regarding, um, kind of how you became aware of fight the new drug, um, and why you’re passionate about that. Um, if we rewind to 2019, you posted to your Instagram, um, with some merchandise, some Fight the New Drug merchandise. And one of the things you said in that post was that you feel like it’s your “right and duty to fight for victims of sex trafficking.” So I just wanted to get your take on why you feel like it’s your right and duty.
Marisol: Um, I’m a girl, I’m a woman, I’m a mom, I’m a human being. If those aren’t qualifications period, to be able to fight for the rights of others, I don’t know what is, you know, this could it, this particular issue of human trafficking doesn’t care, what color your skin is. It doesn’t care how much money your parents make doesn’t care about anything. Are you a body? And that’s all it cares about. And I feel like, honestly, that we should have protest in the streets about this. I don’t understand how this is allowed to go on in this day and age. And my only thought on why it is, is because enough people don’t know about it, enough good people don’t know about it.
Garrett: Right. That makes sense.
Marisol: And to answer your question about, you know, how I sort of found you guys was, you know, I’ve kind of gone really down deep, the rabbit hole when it comes to child sex trafficking and all of that stuff.
And in my own particular research and meeting with different groups in law enforcement and government agencies and all of that, no one could really give me the actual why this occurs besides, okay, it’s supply and demand. We know all that, but who’s creating the demand because you didn’t have this demand, you know, 30 years ago. So what changed? And to me, I sort of abide by the philosophy that if you see something, it becomes real and you can have it. So if the buyers of these girls have been doing nothing but watching child pornography or pornography showing rapes, showing sexual assault, showing all these things, it becomes real to them. They become numb. And now you’ve created a customer, but I did not know that there was an organization doing what you do. And then I went on your site and I saw the links that you guys had, and the explanation about how it actually does act like a drug. And I believe that a hundred percent and that’s pretty much how I, how I came to know you guys.
Garrett: Um, I think a lot of people use their voice to make a difference for activism to make change. Um, you have taken it to another level, um, by forming an organization to fight, uh, sex trafficking. Um, first of all, can you talk to what inspired you to create that organization?
Marisol: Sure. Um, I was going down the rabbit hole, as I mentioned.
Marisol: And I didn’t, at the same time I was walking the red carpet to promote whatever TV show I was on in 2012. And what happens when you do that is let’s say, let’s say they ask me to come to, you know, raise money for kids, backpacks and school. Great thing. Right? So what they do is they give you a cheat sheet right before you walk on the carpet or on the car ride all the way to the red carpet. And then I’m memorizing statistics “Did you know that there’s 50,000 kids in Los Angeles that don’t have access to backpacks?” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And it looks like we’re all rah-rah-rah on that organization, but really just to be dead honest, most of the time, people just showing up because the press is going to be there and they, they want to wake up a pig and it was kind of making me uncomfortable and upset as I was learning about this, this entire industry that no one’s doing anything about.
So I, it was really important for me to not only do something about it, but I didn’t want to be seen as a spokesperson because I felt like I was, I was like, “No, no, no, no. I want to, I want to do more.” And I started, you know, doing red carpet events of my own and giving my own select friends, cheat sheets to get the word out there. [laughter]
Marisol: Um, but then it just became apparent that having my own organization just opened more doors, people took me more seriously. Um, more people would meet with me rather than the cute little celeb that’s coming in for a cause. I was like, “That’s not my deal. That’s not who I am.” And that’s how it started.
Garrett: Cool. That’s amazing. Thanks for, for doing that. Um, well now that we know kind of how the organization came about, can you talk to what the organization does?
Marisol: Yeah, so we partner with, um, different organizations. What we started out doing was the red carpet events. Like I was mentioning. Um, I literally was like, I’m just going to duplicate the same events that I go to with the cheat sheet, but this is going to be unlike any event anybody in Hollywood has gone to. Um, so we started doing that and I started highlighting the organizations that I had met with like, um, airline ambassadors and national center for missing exploited children, O.U.R. And what I did was try to give these guys a platform to speak to all of the celebs and the press that were in the crowd. Because again, I was thinking people just don’t know about it and if enough people know about it, we can get rid of it. You know?
Marisol: And again, that was, you know, I still believe that’s the ultimate ultimate end, but there’s more to be done.
And, you know, I go into cover and stuff like that they’ll get to. But, um, so we did these red carpet events and I did about four of them and had tons and tons of press. And then I would do these backdoor close door briefings for anyone who wanted to know more. And it was just to activate people and get them going. Because my biggest thing that I noticed was they didn’t have anything to do. So now you’ve ruined them. They’re completely shell shocked and they want to do something. I need to give them something to do. So then I would get involved with legislation and different things that we needed to get passed or forwarded or whatever, but give them something to do so that they would come back. Otherwise you just overwhelm people like the darkest thing you’re ever going to hear about. And they’re never going to come back to your event. They’re never going to want to hear about it again. And if they see it on TV, they’re going to turn it off. And I didn’t want that. Um, so it was through all of that, that I then, um, met, met Tim Ballard and partnered with O.U.R. and have since gone undercover to do more and use sort of my acting skills to put pedophiles behind bars for a lot of fun.
Garrett: Yeah. Can you, can you talk to that more? What that, what that experience has been like going undercover. Um, and has your act, has your acting career helped in that?
Marisol: No, my acting career has not help in that. I don’t want anyone to know it’s me.
Garrett: No. I mean the ability to act.
Marisol: Oh, sure. So I’m having a sip of coffee if that’s okay.
Marisol: So the undercover stuff, it kind of, you know, in, in partnering with different people, they’re like doing these thing operations and doing undercover ops, but you have to have an actor. Like they have to be able to play a part, to be able to convince who whatever they’re doing, whether it’s drug trafficking or arms trafficking, ring, filtrating, the mob or whatever they’re doing, you have to have somebody that can play the part. So where I came in was look, I’m, I’m an actor. I can play a drugged out mom. I can play a heroin, addicted, whatever I’m selling my kid or whatever that, part’s fine. That’s kind of a no brainer, at least for me.
Garrett: Yeah. I was going to say another, no brainer for anyone, but for you. Yeah.
Marisol: But I, but in knowing that world, it would just be like, sort of like any other role I’ve already done the research. I already know this thing called and what type of person does this.
Marisol: So um, and so where I may have brought an extra part to, it was where the, uh, you know, law enforcement presser part that I was with asked if I can talk like a little girl that is being trafficked. And so, you know, we had ads and different papers for a young nine year old, 12 year old, two little girls being sold. And with the guys that, you know, we got tons of appointments immediately within, it was disgusting. Um, but with the guys that have done this hardcore, like their whole life, they’re a little bit more savvy. And so they ask, “Well, show me from me, prove that there’s a kid. How do I know this is not just an age down picture?”, which it is. Um, and so that’s when I would get on the phone and have to talk like a little girl who’s been manipulated throughout her young life to say the things to these guys, to push their buttons, to get these serial guys out from hiding and to come show up and then we sort of take them down.
Marisol: So, uh, yeah, it it’s, but I gotta tell you it’s the best feeling in the world because you’ve done something immediately. So if you do an event or you raise awareness, you don’t know how long it’s going to be until you see the results of that, you know, when you get feedback and feedback’s great and it helps a lot, but this was sort of an immediate thing. Um, and I can’t tell you, you know, mothers, their wives crying, saying, “I think he was molesting my daughter.”, uh, dah, dah, dah, dah, other people coming forward. Like it really just kind of provides closure for anyone that, that particular person has been in contact with.
Garrett: And thinking of these, um, experiences that you’ve had, um, where are they happening? Is it abroad or have you done some sting operations within the United States?
Marisol: Oh yeah. I mean, within the United States, you guys know better than anybody where the number one producer, distributor and consumer of child pornography, the customer’s already here. There’s no need to take someone all the way to Thailand or wherever there’s customers there too, but we’ve got it right here, both the supply and the demand. Um, but to answer your question, yes, I’ve done it abroad and in the United States.
Garrett: Um, going back to the fact that you’re an actress and that you’re well known, um, you have millions of followers across your social media platforms. How do you go about not being noticed or identified in the field?
Marisol: Well, the good news is that most of these pedophiles are not watching Riverdale. It’s kind of good.
Marisol: Um, but we also have, obviously I don’t sound like this. I sound different sound like a little girl. Um, and then, you know, maybe you can do anything with a makeup wig, different skin, different whatever. And it’s just a completely different, different sort of being, for lack of a better word. I’m not holding myself like this. It’s just a totally different beingness. And as long as I don’t look like, like this really doesn’t really happen.
Garrett: Right. Have you ever been worried in the field? Have there been moments of concern?
Marisol: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Um, but not that surprisingly, not as often as you might think I did get training. I did have a couple of Navy seals. Um, take me through some training and I had law enforcement take me through some hostage training and, and then, uh, let’s face it. I’m in a room with like 10 guys with some automatic weapons and the connecting room. So I think I’m good. Um, there was only one person that I was worried about showing up because he was 6’5″, um, 280 pounds and, you know, immediately sends a picture of his naked body. And there was no expression on his face whatsoever. Like there wasn’t even the salacious I’m so turned on, I’m selling, you know, sending a naked picture of myself to a kid. It was nothing, he was a robot. And even on the phone with him talking as a kid, he was mechanical and he was the only one that I was worried about. He just was not there. And sure enough, he was the only one that tried to barge down the book, the door, so,
Garrett: Oh, wow.
Marisol: But yeah, no, I think the only thing I worry about is retaliation. Like I make sure that I live in a safe place. Lots of protection.
Garrett: Okay. That makes sense.
Garrett: I’m in one of the many interviews you’ve done, Marisol, uh, you said that “You ended up saving children that…”, and I’m quoting you, “You ended up saving children that didn’t even know that they needed to be saved.” Can you talk to that a little bit more? What did you mean when you said that they don’t even know they need to be saved?
Marisol: Yes. So first I can’t take complete credit for that quote. That was Tim Ballard, but saying it with me together on and off and that’s Tim and he does insane work he’s everything. Anyway. Um, so what we mean by that is if you can take one of these guys that’s that is targeting little kids, answering ads, molesting kids, and you take them off the street, you take them and you lock him up. So he can’t do this anymore. You’ve just saved the next kid that he was going to go after. And the next kid he was going to go after, and the next kid he was going to go after. And in fact, one… in one op that we did, we got a guy that was a, might’ve been like in his sixties. And then we got a guy in his twenties. This is in the same town.
Well, the guy in his twenties who was showing up was coached in his little league by the guy in his sixties as well. So we kind of, you can put two and two together and you see the damage that these guys are actually doing. Not only to the person they’re doing it to, but to the next generation and to everyone else, they’re going to do it too. So that’s what I mean by saving kids that didn’t know they needed to be saved. You’re saving a kid from being another victim of, of any of these guys, you know, cause they keep going and going and going and going and going, until they get caught.
Garrett: Okay. Does your organization, or have you as an individual, have you done any work with recovery? Cause you help rescue an individual, a kid. Um, have you helped in any recovery as they transition their mindset back to a healthy state?
Marisol: Yeah. I get you. I get your question. Um, I, when I do do the ops and partnering with, um, another organization that will not do an op, unless there’s a recovery or a place to put that kid. So no matter what, we’re not just taking a kid out or whatever and just good luck and leave them on leaving them on the streets.
Marisol: Keep in mind also that unfortunately United States, the most, the majority of the kids that have this happens to our runaways and foster care. So they have to be able to go somewhere cause they have no home that they can go back to or the runaway, what are they running from? Why are they, it’s a, it’s a string pole in a deeper, a deeper question. But my, one of my goals is to be able to really take the entire gamut of it so that when you do have girls that are rescued from this, that you’re doing something with them outside of this, rather than just shoving a drug in them and saying, “Well, you’re depressed.” Well, yeah, she’s been raped 20 times a day. You can do something more here. And there’s some amazing organizations that I’ve highlighted and worked with that do incredible, incredible work and stay with the girls all the way through till they get through to college and everything like really take it full on. It’s it’s really amazing.
Garrett: That’s great. In your experience, do you think there is sufficient space for everyone that is being rescued by these organizations that you’ve mentioned? Is there space enough for recovery or is that a need?
Marisol: It’s a huge need. It takes money. It takes beds, money beds, and people that care. And it’s, you know, most of the sort of city council people that I meet with in different cities, they’re like we need beds. I was even looking into like buying a whole place out in Calabasas and like getting beds and then how could I do it? And then there’s a huge, huge need for this. Um, one of the things that I like to do because there’s such a huge need is like, look, it’s when you take it back to supply and demand, take out the demand and you won’t have to handle the supply. Then we won’t have a huge need because men will stop showing up to do this. So to me, it’s, it’s the first target, and then, okay, now what do we do with these girls that need a complete reeducation, you know, just a safe bed to live in knowing that someone’s not going to walk in the door.
Um, but taking out the demand, which is one of the things I love about what you guys do, that that’s where you have to target, you know?
Garrett: In your opinion, how do we stop the demand?
Marisol: I mean, honestly, getting rid of the dark web and child pornography would be a huge, huge step. Um, you know, I, I believe, believe what you guys do and if you’re watching horrible stuff, you should just think about it. Like there’s a guy and he’s watching “normal porn”, whatever that is watching “normal porn.” And then that doesn’t do it for him. So he clicks here and he clicks here and he clicks here and he clicks here and he starts going darker and darker and darker and darker. Where does that lead? The end, his kids that’s the end. And so if we can, what you guys do, which is educate people before they even get into that trap, that would be huge.
Let them give them a way out of it once they are not blaming, but like, Hey, listen, there’s a, we understand. And there’s a way out of this. I think we need to change the laws. I think that anyone buying a kid for sex should be called, we could, should be charged with statutory rape. Why is that not statutory rape, whether you pay for it or not, doesn’t matter does it? So if we change those things, I think if we put a few heads on Pikes, in other words, “Hi. So, and so from your neighborhood and your local billboard just got arrested for having sex for the 12 year old.” When you make the consequences bigger, it’s a little harder for people to do it. Um, the shutting down of backpage.com helped a lot because you couldn’t just order up a kid like a pizza, but you have to have bigger consequences.
You have to have more education and you have to stop the feeding ground. That’s allowing this to happen and it’s not as simple solution. You also have to, I, my opinion, relook at foster care, we look at foster care because why are these kids? Why is the majority of children being trafficked in the United States from foster care? Hey, what’s wrong with foster care? Maybe we need to take a look at that. When you’ve got a kid alone in a stranger’s home, they can do whatever they want. Maybe we need to look at orphanages again, where kids have their peers there and have some camaraderie with other kids, their age, you have a mutual experience, giant, giant issue, and there’s all different ways to tackle it. And it’s going to take all of those different ways to tackle it. And in my business, I can say for sure, the one thing that kills me is seeing older men with a love interest of some girl that’s 30 years younger than them. It looks ridiculous. He looks like her father. Why are we romanticizing the older man with the younger girl? Girl. And let’s say, let’s call it what it is. It’s a girl. It’s not a woman. It’s a girl. What is wrong with people with men and women being the same age or similar age? Why are we pushing this? I can’t tell you how many of my peers like, “Oh, I can’t, I can’t play his love interest. I’m too old.” I’m like, “You’re five years younger than him.” “Exactly.”
It starts, you know, everyone, it’s kind of known that what comes out of Hollywood kind of goes all over the world. So to me, it also starts by taking a responsibility within our own, our own industry. And I can go on and on about the music industry and half-naked, 15 year old girls like stop making kids into sex objects. That that’s not what this is about. So it, to me, it’s a multi, multi pronged attack, a lot of sides.
Garrett: Right. That’s some good info. Um, are you running for president?
Garrett: [laughter] Because I’ll vote for Marisol Nichols.
Marisol: Thanks very much.
Garrett: No. Um, but speaking about your industry and romanticizing things within the industry, I wanted to ask you, being that you’re an actress and have been for so many years, um, what’s your take on romanticizing sexual abuse storylines in your industry. Do you think that that translates to actual sexual abuse?
Marisol: Yeah. I absolutely do. I absolutely do. If you, anything that comes, whether it’s music or art, when you are putting out something like that on a, an aesthetic line, you know, something that’s supposed to be beautiful or artful or whatever out into society, you can, you can affect younger, a younger generation. They see it. “Well, that’s normal there. They liked it there, I guess it’s okay.” People are confused. Let’s face it. You know, sex and sexual relationships are confusing, especially when you’re in a team when you’re a teenager. So if you can get, if I’m a bad guy and I want to get that message to that teenage group, I know exactly how to do it. To me, it’s calculated, what are we doing? What are we doing? You know, it’s funny. Cause I was just on a Deadline. If you know a deadline, Hollywood is a, the singer Duffy. She was a beautiful, beautiful girl, beautiful singer. She was kidnapped and raped for about a year. And she just did an article. Um, or she wrote a letter to the head of Netflix because there’s a Polish film that they’re now airing on Netflix.
That’s literally about a girl who’s been kidnapped and she’s raped for a year. And then she “falls in love” with her rapist and kidnapper. Why are we putting this out there? Why, what is the purpose of that? Except your, you know, to make some guy who’s raping a girl, feel like, “Well, see, I’m not that bad at all because she fell in love with him.” Really? Do we get examples of this out there? Do we really need examples of this out there? So I, I can’t stand it and I feel like it’s calculated. I don’t feel like it’s by a mistake. I don’t buy that. I just don’t. I think it’s calculated and I really, really don’t like it just to be Frank.
Garrett: Thanks for sharing your opinion on that. Um, Marisol, we, once again, we, we know your time is valuable and we thank you for being here today. Um, I wanted to give you the last word during this conversation. Anything else you would like? Um, our audience, our listeners to, to know or think about?
Marisol: Yes. So, you know, there’s so many people out there trying to do something about this in every, in every city, in every town, all over the planet. And so what I hear the most is how can I help? How can I help? What can I do? How can I help, um, first get yourself educated, please go on, Fight the New Drug for, please read about this and that, and how pornography affects this world. Um, educate yourself. And then honestly, there’s places in your local town that need help, that need volunteers, that needs supplies that need these things. And so it really doesn’t take much just Google and call up your local organization and go, hi. I’d like to help. What do you need? Right. That’s all. So, you know, I believe every everybody doing their part can make a difference and we have to, and honestly you’ll feel so much better about yourself because it’s hard to sleep once, you know, all these things. Once you start doing something about it, you can sleep a little better and you can get other people to do it with you and you can really, really make a difference.
Garrett: Yeah. For sure. Well, we will make sure to link your websites and your social medias to this episode. And I just want to encourage our listeners to show let’s go show her some support as well and, um, show her some love on social media and, and through to her organization. So, uh, yeah, thanks again, Marisol. We appreciate everything that you’re doing. The world is definitely a better place because of Marisol Nichols. So we are definitely on your side. Um, let us know how we can support you.
Marisol: Thank you very much. Thank you guys.
Garrett: Thanks for joining us on this episode of Consider Before Consuming. Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug. Fight the New Drug is a nonreligious and non the legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography, by raising awareness on its harmful effects, using only science facts and personal accounts. If you’d like to learn more about today’s guests and the conversation we had, and you can check out the links attached to this episode. Big, thanks to you for listening to this conversation. As you go about your day, we invite you to increase your self awareness. Look both ways, check your blind spots and consider before consuming.
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