Stars Making a Social Impact: Why & How Actress Jacqueline Piñol Is Helping To Change Our World

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My journey has become a self-funded grassroots project that has turned into a docu-series. I focus each episode on highlighting my visit with nonprofit dog rescue organizations and their volunteers to show who is making a real difference to improve the canine condition in this country. On this journey, I have also found that there are many wonderful people in this country who want to help, who CAN help and they just don’t know how or where to do so. I’m here to show them where, how and who to help anywhere in the country, in person or virtually. With so many resources available, there is no valid excuse to not lend a hand to save man’s best friend.

As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jacqueline Piñol.

Jacqueline Piñol is an actress and activist best known for her role as ‘Detective Julie Espinosa’ on Amazon Prime’s “Bosch” as well as the voice of ‘Rio Morales’ in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales video game. Jacqueline hosts “The Canine Condition” podcast and stars in the upcoming documentary series “The Canine Condition: A DOGumentary Series” (premiering fall 2021) which covers the current situation involving neglect, abuse and abandonment of dogs in the United States and highlights people around the country who are working to make a change for the better.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

I went to a little elementary school called Wonderland Avenue school. I didn’t live near the school I took the school bus there but a lot of my friends’ parents who lived close to school really supported the arts programs there. I was in plays and in orchestra and chorus. I was surrounded by the arts so much and found a lot of joy as a child expressing myself through playing other characters or playing music. In sixth grade, I got to play the role of the mom in Mary Poppins. I remember it was one night during a performance of the show, while I was marching through the audience singing Sister Suffragette that I felt like I was in my element. I knew at that moment, I wanted to be an actor my whole life and no matter what ups and downs came with that choice I’ve never veered away from it. Shortly after that, I searched for an agent in the yellow pages and mailed out letters (asking for representation) along with 4x6 glossy photos of myself. (Oh gosh I am really dating myself LOL). I clearly remember making my parents take me to the post office to make sure those envelopes got out.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?

Ah Yes! So, I was fresh out of college and I booked my first small role in a major motion picture. It was my first day on set and as I am walking to rehearsal a gentleman dressed in loose pants a very loose-fitting jacket and worn shoes is walking towards set. He looks at me and waves and smiles and says hello. My 22-year-old insecure self can’t help but think why is he saying hello to me? He doesn’t even know me, should I even say hello back? And I cannot recall if I smiled but I know I wasn’t the friendly confident Jacqui I am today. He lets me walk in front of him, we get to set, and I hear the A.D. speaking out loud to the whole crew “ladies and gentlemen let’s have it quiet please our Director is on set” and everybody starts clapping. I turn around and it was that guy — he was our Director. I had not met him because I had auditioned on tape and been cast straight from tape. The Director was Sam Raimi and the project was For Love Of The Game. At that moment I felt like burying my head in the sand, but I was about to rehearse a bedroom scene with Kevin Costner. The lesson I learned, as cliché as it may sound is don’t judge a book by its cover. Never let your own insecurities or ego get in the way of saying hello and being kind to everyone! Sam was so lovely, so friendly and kind, so unassuming and grounded. And a fabulously talented Director as we all know. I was very happy to have had him as the first film Director in my career.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

The first thing I would say is don’t emulate my success or anyone else’s. What I would say is aim high, dream big and always, always study your craft. If a career as an actor is what you choose to pursue you should never stop learning, traveling, watching movies and television shows, staying in acting classes, doing plays, writing, and creating your own projects. All of that is part of what makes a good actor successful. Get really really good at something and don’t ever stop practicing.

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

This is a hard question to answer. I can’t think of any one person who has made a profound impact in my life. I have always admired the acts of kindness that others perform in life. I definitely admire people who live by example especially in areas of life that require selfless acts. I mostly admire people who perform selfless acts but also take care of themselves in the process. You want to be a good example of how to live life, not just be a martyr. I wish I had a more profound answer for you on this one but we are all flawed humans. I look for inspiration in people’s actions toward the world not just how they impact my life personally.

Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

I am currently very active in speaking up against abandonment, abuse, and neglect of dogs, especially in the United States. Our country is a first-world nation with a real third-world problem when it comes to Human best friends. And some humans fail to recognize that our canine companions are innocent, sentient beings who depend on us to take care of them and provide for them. The human condition created the current canine condition and it is not a good one. I began filming a documentary in 2015. My journey has become a self-funded grassroots project that has turned into a docu-series. I focus each episode on highlighting my visit with nonprofit dog rescue organizations and their volunteers to show who is making a real difference to improve the canine condition in this country. On this journey, I have also found that there are many wonderful people in this country who want to help, who CAN help and they just don’t know how or where to do so. I’m here to show them where, how and who to help anywhere in the country, in person or virtually. With so many resources available, there is no valid excuse to not lend a hand to save man’s best friend. In 2020 everything came to a standstill for us all and that included postproduction of my documentary series, but the number of homeless dogs just kept growing. Many people also adopted or purchased dogs, but many didn’t have the right resources once the dog came home. I needed to keep the conversation going so I began The Canine Condition Podcast. The podcast is a platform to bring awareness to dog adoption and provide information and resources on how to raise a healthy and well-balanced dog. The focus is to highlight more nonprofit dog rescue organizations, veterinarians, safe dog trainers, and offer people an easy way to help a dog in need without having to commit to adoption or fostering. Nowadays with our cell phones, everything is within reach with just the touch of a button. If all people can do is share a post or make a donation that is just as important and can be saving the life of a homeless dog. And let me tell you the podcast has done wonders to reinvigorate my own energy and inspiration to continue speaking up for this cause. My guests on the podcast will move and inspire you as they have me, with their stories and the positive change that they bring to the canine condition every day.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

This journey was inspired by the adoption of my dog Dublin my first pitbull-type dog from a shelter in Los Angeles. When we picked her up from the shelter, we walked by a hundred dogs behind bars. And I never knew if they got adopted or were euthanized. That thought haunted me. I needed to do something about this. How many “Dublins” were going unnoticed or never leaving the shelter alive? My intent was to make a documentary to expose this problem and find solutions but after finding out that every city and every state in the country is overwhelmed with homeless dogs and poor laws to protect them, there was too much footage to cut out. We can talk about the problem all day long but what we needed to focus on was the solution and to magnify the scope of that solution. I had to jump in and be the boots on the ground in search of answers. There isn’t anything that I cover in the documentary or podcast that I have not done myself. I practice what I preach, from fostering to adopting to donating to volunteering to transporting to pushing legislation to visiting shelters to helping rescue organizations run adoptions. I’ve done it all and will continue until we can say we don’t have a homeless dog epidemic in this country. I have a 5-year-old son and he is growing up learning how to respect love and protect his canine siblings. He’s gentle and kind and has a huge heart and so much empathy. If he is learning that because of the journey that we are on with the canine condition then I feel that I am not only putting out good into the world day to day with this project but that I’m setting him up for success in the future so that he can pass on a message of positivity to his generation wherever he goes.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

My own mother. My sisters and I did not grow up with dogs or any pets besides some goldfish. I grew up afraid of dogs and the narrative in my home was always that a dog was going to bite you if you were a bad girl or that dogs were dirty and had germs. As an adult, I clearly had experiences that showed me this was absolutely not true and when I got my first dog, a pug, my family was very hesitant to come near it. I felt it was almost a lost cause so I wasn’t going to try and convert them but I didn’t have to because Gracie my pug did the work for me. Both my parents fell madly in love with her. They would call me constantly to check in on her. They would offer to dog-sit her when I was away on trips and she won them both over. When I was a kid, my mother always complained that she never wanted to have dog hair on her clothes if we visited anyone who had dogs and let me tell you pugs shed a lot. I don’t think my mom ever cared about that with Gracie. My sweet pug passed away in 2016 and by then my mom had her own rescued dog, a white German Shepherd. Talk about shedding right? She absolutely loved that dog until his last breath. She loves every dog and now she’s talking about fostering and volunteering for rescue organizations after hearing several episodes of the podcast. Dogs will do that to you. They reach deep into your soul and bring out the best in you if you let them.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Yes! Absolutely, Yes Yes! Where and when do we start? LOL! The one thing that I have heard from experienced and reputable sources in the dog rescue world and that I must keep repeating is that voting is important. When we complain about things like dog homelessness, overcrowded shelters, euthanasia, lack of affordable spay and neuter programs, it is because we have not implemented laws that make it so that we can protect our animals better. When dogs are chained in yards, and they are suffering and there’s nothing we can do it’s because no one has fought hard enough to put into place anti-chaining laws. So, the next time you see or hear animal protection laws being discussed or formulated in your local districts, speak up AND VOTE! Better laws need to be passed and the public needs to show up in greater numbers to push them through so we can start to see true change in our lifetime. Our police force and animal control officers can’t help us save dogs from perilous situations like abuse if they don’t have the laws to stand behind them when they want to take action to protect animals. So vote, always vote. Local politicians work for each and everyone of us and they want our votes so they also need to know what is important to us and we must push them to create better laws for our canine companions. I would also say that everyone can use their social media platform for positivity. As one of my guests in the documentary said, it takes one click to share and it can get around the world. My whole documentary project started when I saw a Facebook post from a shelter in the town of Dublin, Georgia. I had to take action. Had I not gone out there and begged to adopt this dog from the post, my sweet, lovable Huckleberry, a brindle pit mix would not be here today. The power of social media can save a life, so imagine if we all used that power for the good. The third thing I would say is crucial all over the country is offering up your time and home to temporarily foster a dog. It seems like a daunting task but it is the most rewarding experience. Reputable nonprofit dog rescue organizations provide everything you need for the dog while you foster. They make sure the dog gets safely adopted. Maybe your heart is too big and you don’t think you can let them go. Well, when you have adopted your own or fostered one that gets adopted, you see how fostering is saving a life. Part of my job in my documentary is to vet the people and organizations I film or interview so that when the general public wants to get involved in the cause, they will know they are in good hands supporting any of the organizations highlighted in The Canine Condition and there are many, we are just beginning.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.

#1 Trust your gut. Coming from a Latin American background and having parents who immigrated to this country I will tell you that the narrative in my culture and in my home is that we always listen to elders because they always know more, they’re more experienced. What that did for me was shut down my inner voice. I didn’t trust it. I think I could have avoided a lot of hiccups in my lifetime even in my career if I had trusted my gut. If I had had a voice of reason to tell me that sometimes the best and only voice to listen to is your own, I would have been happier at a younger age. I trust my gut now more than anything. And if I make a mistake it’s my own doing, no one to blame, I pick myself up and keep moving.

#2 Put in those 10,000 hours + but be patient. I was very hard on myself growing up and even well into my 20s. I was also raised with really high expectations and standards so I didn’t know how to be patient with myself. I could have avoided a lot of insecurity early on if I had focused my energy on moving forward rather than blaming myself for a bad outcome or for thinking I was the reason something didn’t work out when my career wasn’t going the way I wanted it to.

#3 Don’t compare yourself to others. I wish I had learned to trust that I was good enough just the way I was. Everyone is their own unique version of a human. To try and be like someone else or be better than someone else is a waste of time. I did learn to appreciate what I brought to the table and felt like I was definitely worthy of attaining the things I strived for but I didn’t learn that early enough. I could have avoided a lot of needless stress.

#4 Don’t take everything so seriously. Oh boy, how I wish I had heard this more often! Maybe it was a cultural thing but my family was so serious and intense. I used to like to joke around a lot as a kid but would end up getting in trouble for it or accused for being “disrespectful”. I think that really hurt me in the end. It took decades for me to regain my sense of humor and lighten up. As an actor, it definitely would have served me well to not take everything so seriously. Oh well, c’est la vie for me BUT my son LOVES to joke around and I couldn’t be happier about it. We laugh every single day with him. It’s so refreshing.

#5 Getting pregnant is not the end of your acting career, it’s just the beginning. I never planned to be a mom to a human. In my mind, I was “busy” trying to establish a career. I was a dog mom and that was good enough for me and my hubby too. What I didn’t know was that getting pregnant and having a child was one of the absolute best, most transformative and fulfilling things that could happen to me as a woman and as an actor. And so it is. I have a 5-year-old son and since I was 3 months pregnant with him I was cast in a recurring role of the “BOSCH” series. And I have been busy working as an actress on other projects since he was born. My son Atlas has brought new meaning to life. I see the world with fresh eyes and am excited again about things like coloring with crayons, riding a scooter down a hill, enjoying a scoop of ice cream to the very last drop! It is because of him that I am more driven to help his generation be more compassionate and loving toward animals. I should have gotten pregnant sooner! LOL.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

If I could start a movement I would have to say it would especially need to benefit seniors, children and of course doggies. I envision multi-lingual programs that would provide access for the older generation and the younger generation to be hands-on with canines so they could learn how and why we must properly care for dogs with vetting, safe obedience training, nutrition, exercise, and love. I envision free spay and neuter programs for every pet parent who needs them! Free vaccinations are a must! And of course, experienced dog handlers who would be approved to visit schools and community centers and senior centers and hospitals with dogs from shelters. There are already small programs spread out throughout the country that do some of this on a small scale but this needs to be a national norm if American culture is going to establish a more loving and compassionate norm to how we care for canines! Multi-lingual is important because we are a melting pot of cultures and languages so let’s all meet on the same page on this topic. Thousands upon thousands of senior citizens in this country would enjoy the company of a canine even if it was a visit from a dog or maybe we would have facilities where seniors could go on a day-to-day basis to visit a dog. There are millions of children in this country who never get exposed to animals or who receive no guidance or proper education on why we must treat animals with kindness. In order to implement lasting change in the USA, it is up to all of us that fill that generational gap to take action so we can see the outcome of such programs in our lifetime.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

“Life is a journey not a destination” Since I started pursuing a career as an actress at a very young age, there was always this glorified idea around me that you are “an actor” when you “make it”. But what does making it mean or look like? Have you only made it if you have an Oscar or are an A list actor? Have you only made it if you are on a series? It’s easy to get wrapped up in that when you are young and impressionable. I am glad that I never stopped fully living my life just because I was acting but not instantly famous or constantly working. In fact, when I was not working I was traveling the world, I went to college, I studied abroad in Paris and China. I learned to speak 4 other languages. Even now as a mom I don’t limit myself to what is possible which is why I embarked on the documentary series journey when I found out I was pregnant. Time flies, so I make the most of the time I have while I am living it. There’s never a dull moment around here LOL.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them!

There’s probably a long line for this one but I would have to say Michelle and Barack Obama. Since President Obama‘s first presidential campaign I have been inspired by his journey with Michelle. For me, they represent being seen and being heard. Their time in office me gave me the confidence to believe that anything is possible and that you cannot dream too big, in fact, you must. Now that they are no longer in the office I am so happy to see all of the good that they are doing with their foundation. I feel like they would definitely have some very inspiring, sound words for this Latina mom who is trying to make a positive impact on our society and future generations by helping homeless dogs and improving the canine condition of the United States.

How can our readers follow you online?

Visit http://www.thecaninecondition.com/ for more information.

Follow Jacqueline on Instagram @jacquipinol

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring.

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Edward Sylvan CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group
Authority Magazine

Edward Sylvan is the Founder and CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc. He is committed to telling stories that speak to equity, diversity, and inclusion.