Making Money on the Side – Acting in a Police Department Training Program
Welcome to the next Side Jam Interview! This week we have a special guest who offers an exciting and unique way to make extra money on the side.
Accomplished actor Giovannie Espiritu takes time out of her super-busy acting and teaching schedule to answer the questions on my site.
I mean, how cool is that? I am so excited to get started with this interview — and also so grateful to everyone who helped me make this connection.
So we’re going to jump right into this one, without waiting a moment longer —
And now, here is some background about Giovannie:
Actress and filmmaker Giovannie Espiritu was nominated alongside Academy Award Nominees Alfre Woodard and Amy Irving for Best Supporting Actress at Method Fest for the Mynah Films feature film “Fiona’s Script”. Her primetime credits include a recurring role on ER (NBC), Bones (FOX), Gilmore Girls (ABC), and Trauma (NBC).
She can currently be seen as the lead in the Amazon series, “Dyke Central,” which was featured in After Ellen, BuzzFeed, Bust Magazine and Curve Magazine as a top LGBTQ series to watch.
As a filmmaker, she was featured in Elizabeth Banks’ WhoHaHa Media for her parody song, “An Introvert’s World,” and her storytelling has been featured in Ms. Magazine. A two-time Outfest Fusion Filmmaker, her short film, “Ultra-Feminist,” was awarded Honorable Mention.
She is an entrepreneur as well; she coaches kids, teens, and young adults online nationwide through HollywoodActorsWorkshop.com. She was just named one of the top 40 Audition Coaches in Los Angeles by the Hollywood Winners Circle, founded by Wendy Alane Wright, a top talent manager.
Her students are represented by the top agencies in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, and notable student alumni include William Lipton (Cameron on General Hospital) and the Espina Sisters (Hosts of Dreamworks’ “Life Hacks for Kids on the Road”).
Gio likes to rock climb in her spare time and advocates for Domestic Violence Awareness/Prevention and LGBTQ equality. She has served on the Board of Directors for CORA (a Bay Area domestic violence hotline and agency) and was awarded a Certificate of Recognition from the Senate for her community service.
The Interview Questions
Tell Us About a Fun, Unique, or Interesting Side Jam You’ve Tried:
I was an actor for the San Francisco Police Department training program.
How/why did you get started with this activity?
I was referred by someone who was already working in the program.
Can regular civilians (non-actors) apply for a program like this?
You can do an online search in your area to see if the local police department is looking for role playing volunteers for similar training programs. Also, check out common job search sites such as Indeed and Zip Recruiter to look for Scenario Role Player jobs in your area.
How Much Time Did You Spend per Month Acting in This Training Program?
I spent two or three days a month helping with the detective program.
In general, how profitable was this activity? (financially, or even educationally, lessons learned…)
It was regular low-budget actor pay (generally $125-200/day), but the lessons learned from the detectives and police officers were really interesting to me.
Did You Have to Sign Any Sort of Waiver for Assisting With the Training?
Yes, they did have a waiver of some sort, but it was so long ago, I don’t remember specifics.
What type of research or learning curve is required to be an actor in a police training program?
I was given a few case studies to memorize, and the work was generally improvised. For example, if police officers asked a specific question, I would give a particular answer. If the police officer made me feel uncomfortable (especially in rape scenarios), I would shut down (as part of the role).
What Tips Would You Have for Someone Who Is Looking To Get Started Acting in a Police Training Program?
Take drama classes, watch a lot of NCIS and procedural dramas. Then you can point out the discrepancies with actual police/detective investigations. Only slightly kidding.
Overall, what have you learned by doing this activity?
I learned how to deal with different authority figures and the police procedures when dealing with complex cases. In addition, it gave me more empathy for police officers.
Is this something you would like to do again? Why or why not?
It was fun but emotionally exhausting.
They gave me some of the most challenging cases to deal with emotionally (rape, domestic violence, pregnancies with drug addiction).
This was partly because I’m a seasoned actor and partly because I was already doing non-profit work and promoting awareness for domestic violence prevention. In addition, I had previous training with domestic violence cases and am a survivor myself.
I don’t know that I would want to do it again. But I would want to work more with the detectives than the police academy. Some of the newer academy recruits were a little too eager to get physical, and I got beat up a few times. (OMG!)
Wow, that’s a lot of heavy stuff to have to deal with. After each training session, did you do anything specific to “wind down” from the emotional impacts of the activity? Like meditation, or kickboxing, or something similar to de-stress?
Showers! I also teach kids that emotions are transient, and we don’t have to hold onto them. (That’s a smart thing to remember in many different situations!)
Gio, thank you so much for contributing! Where can my readers find you online?
Acting Coaching website: hollywoodactorsworkshop.com
The Wrap Up
This was such a great interview on so many levels! First off, I’m honored & amazed that a talented actor like Giovannie has contributed an interview to my site.
And also, this is such a unique side hustle that I never even knew existed.
Now, I’m not sure I’d want to do this particular activity — I mean, I’m not an actor, so I highly doubt I’d be qualified.
But it also sounds like there’s quite a bit of emotional investment involved. Or I suppose if you’re that good of an actor, you can turn the emotions off and on with ease.
So many thoughts are swirling around in my head for this one — It honestly sounds like it’s for a worthy cause since police officers protect and serve our communities and require training to do so.
But I’m not sure I’d want to put myself out there like that. However, if participating in a police training program can help someone in a crisis or domestic abuse situation, this activity must exist.
Thank you so much, Gio — you’ve brought so many important issues to the table. Congratulations on your recent accomplishments, and best of luck with your future endeavors!
Everyone be sure to check out Giovannie’s coaching website, as well as her online, TV and film credits.
And if you’d like to learn even more about Giovannie, this article provides more insight into her amazing backstory.
Questions for the audience —
Are there any aspiring actors out there who’d be willing to take part in a community or government training program?
Do you think this might be a fun experience to try or too much pressure to be worth the pay?
Have you tried any other side gigs that were momentarily uncomfortable but paid good money?
I’d love to know what you think about this one — Hit me up in the comments!
Hey there – Do you have a Side Jam you’d like to share?
Let me know by filling out THIS FORM, and you could be featured on my blog!
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