Known for her role as Detective Julie Espinosa in Prime Video’s Bosch, and set to return in Freevee’s Bosch: Legacy, the multi-lingual Latinx Jacqueline Piñol will appear in an episode of the Criminal Minds spin-off Criminal Minds: Evolution.
Born in Queens, Piñol moved to Los Angeles at a young age and was busy early on with commercial jobs. It wasn’t long before she landed her first television role as Ricky Martin’s younger sister on General Hospital. Her resume grew quickly, landing major roles on popular shows including Ponderosa, Resurrection Blvd, CSI: New York, Lincoln Heights, AHS, and many more. Piñol has also excelled as a voiceover actress in feature films such as Knives Out, The Lego Movie 2, Incredibles 2, and Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans.
A fierce advocate for dogs, Piñol created The Canine Condition: a Dogumentary Series (Season 2 premieres in January 2023) and a podcast titled The Canine Condition. When not busy in front of the camera, acting, or working with motion capture experts on a new video game, she can be found spending time with her husband and son. The multifaceted actress fluently speaks four languages: English, Spanish, French and Italian. In this one-on-one interview, Piñol reveals her love of acting and the challenges she faces in bringing her characters to life.
Was there an actor or film that inspired you to pursue acting?
Jacqueline Piñol: I was inspired at a very young age by being in plays at school. I went to this little elementary school called Wonderland Avenue. We did these fantastic plays, which a lot of people came to see. One play was Mary Poppins. I had such a blast singing and dancing with an ensemble cast and getting into costumes made by the parents who got very involved in that school. The response we got as children to these plays inspired me to go into the performing arts.
Tell us about your first TV role as Ricky Martin’s younger sister on General Hospital. Were you nervous, excited?
Piñol: Super excited but inside a nervous wreck. I was just crazy about all the cast and had all these stickers, posters, and books. I was in my late teens and here I was being booked as Ricky’s sister. It was quite an experience and the best part was not being disappointed. Sometimes you have these star crushes and but when you meet them you’re disappointed because they don’t live up to your expectations. But Ricky was exactly what I expected and more. He was extremely kind, friendly, and accommodating. His cast and crew treated everyone with such respect. Ricky was lovely to work with.
What drew you to the role of Detective Julie Espinosa in Bosch?
Piñol: I just found out I was going to have a baby. I told my agent that I was getting really big and to book me out. But I had the Bosch audition, literally the next day. They said we know you’re pregnant, but we still want to see you—it’s just a guest spot. I was just three months along, not really showing, but I felt eight months pregnant. So I went in and I felt very connected to the role and had fun with it. But it turned into several episodes and then into more seasons. The fans in social media liked me and that helped bring me back. I never expected such a reaction.
How do you prepare for a detective role? Do you interview real detectives? Go on ride-alongs with police?
Piñol: I do work with a coach but they also have actual homicide detectives on site as consultants. So there’s a lot of back and forth with questions and even to the point of how you wear your pins on your jacket. Sometimes, when there are no detectives on site, Titus (B. Welliver) will have some insights as well.
Do you have female detectives come in and advise you?
Piñol: We have one who said that real detectives are always a lot calmer than they’re sometimes portrayed in movies and TV. As a detective, you’re calm and subdued as you assess everything. You take in what’s before you and don’t assume anything while you’re on the job. You bring it down, observe, and collect evidence.
You do a lot of voicework for Spider-Man. What challenges do you typically face there?
Piñol: It’s been such a joy ride. A couple of weeks after my child was born, I had my first audition for Rio Morales. And because Rio is mother to a young boy and I had just given birth to a young boy, there was this mother-son connection I had to Miles Morales, something I’d never experienced before. The scene was so powerfully played that I ended up getting the role.
What’s it like when you see your likeness in animation?
Piñol: It’s pretty cool because as an animated character, they make you so flawless (laughs). But I get more excited watching my son watch me as Rio.
Can you go into your toughest acting job?
Piñol: There was this one ABC Movie of the Week. I was the lead in a story of a young girl in Guatemala who catches this virus. She’s trying to get to Southern California to work and send money back to her dying grandfather. This was some time ago—about 20 years back. It was a challenge because I have Guatemalan descent in me and I emotionally had to visit places and recall things I’d heard from my family. It brought to mind the hardships of families in third-world countries. The desire to leave their homes and risk their lives, hoping for greater opportunities. So that was a lot of deep stuff at a very young age that I wasn’t ready to dig into but I had to for the role. The casting agent said that he didn’t think women from Guatemala looked like me. So that reminded me that we can be from anywhere and look any which way. Our looks shouldn’t define where we’re from. So I took the role and reminded myself that I was representing a woman from Guatemala. It was quite a journey. We shot in Vancouver and had to pretend we were in Southern California and Tijuana.
As an actor, what have you learned about working in this business that surprised you?
Piñol: Overall, no matter how good you are or how bad you want it, there are no guarantees. You have to really just want it to fulfill yourself and move on, to be able to walk away without expectations. That was tough. When you’re young, you want it so bad and you want people to validate you. When you can sleep at night and say I was good, I gave it my best. That’s when you can live more joyously and freely as an actor. I’m also inspired by many of today’s young actors, who have this enthusiasm and wonder. So you need to walk that fine line—give it your all but don’t expect to get it all.
What advice would you give a young Latina eager to become an actor?
Piñol: If you can, learn Spanish fluently. Learn about your roots, your background, and own it, be proud of it. And always study your craft. Keep going to those classes, workshops, and plays. There are many wonderful artists out there. The competition is getting stiff. You’re not just competing with people in the US but worldwide. Keep in mind that everyone and anyone is willing to work in all media. We’re all artists.
What were you like in high school? The girl most likely to…?
Piñol: The girl most likely to succeed in whatever she’s going after. In junior high, I think I got an award for that–succeeding and being most involved in school activities.