If you only know Marisol Nichols from her work on The CW teen drama Riverdale or the Fox crime thriller 24, you might be surprised to hear that she does volunteer undercover detective work. Her triumphs in espionage will soon become public knowledge via an upcoming television show being developed by Sony Pictures Television, according to Entertainment Weekly.
The show has its origins in a recent Marie Claire feature, “The Hollywood Vigilante” by Erika Hayasaki. Nichols recounts that in 2014, without a consistent work schedule to occupy her time, she vowed to fight for a cause she truly believed in– the elimination of child sex trafficking. That same year, she founded a nonprofit, Foundation for a Slavery Free World, and organized multiple public speaking events. A search for keynote speakers led her to connect with a former special agent for the Department of Homeland Security, who invited her to witness a sting operation firsthand, and then offered her the opportunity to participate in one. Over the past few years, the actress has been a key player in half a dozen undercover sex trafficking busts, resulting in an FBI partnership and an official informant deputization from a California D.A. Her involvement with Operation Underground Railroad, a nonprofit famous for its sex trafficking victim rescue efforts, is documented in the 2018 non-fiction film Operation Toussaint.
Operation Toussaint was distributed as part of the Scientology Network’s ongoing Documentary Showcase series. Nichols has been a practicing Scientologist since the late 1990s. When asked by Hayasaki about claims regarding Scientology’s own history of human trafficking allegations, Nichols dismissed them as “complete fabrications.”
Although the Marie Claire feature inspired the current development deal with Sony, Nichols has apparently considered developing a show based on the real-life experiences of law enforcement officers for several years. Her early plans involved a collaboration with Todd Helbing, a co-showrunner on The CW’s The Flash. Nichols discussed the guiding principle behind the concept in a 2017 interview with Thrive Global, stating, “I want to be able to forward inspiring stories because I feel they would make a difference in anyone’s life who saw them.”
Nichols has recently walked back her February statement that she would not return for the upcoming fifth season of Riverdale, so it may be a while before this new show based on true events makes its way to the small screen. In any case, the show’s very existence is a testament to a time-honored adage: “The truth is stranger than fiction.”