When Giovannie Espiritu reflects on how she got where she is today, her mind goes down a long, hard road. Most budding actors will attest to their fair share of hard knocks. But Giovannie’s journey takes her back to some really hard times. Yet all of it has made her into who she is today: a celebrated actor, an award-winning filmmaker, and a coveted acting teacher.

Most of Giovannie’s current success materialized by accident. Acting never crossed her mind growing up. At one point in her life, she was living in a Christian cult with her ex. During this period, she longed for the times when she could keep telemarketers on the phone so she could have human contact outside the cult. After being told by one salesperson she should do voice-overs because her voice was so pleasant, she gained permission to arrange an audition. The abridged version of this story goes as follows: she got the job, left the cult, was hired by an agency, and pursued a satisfying and profitable acting career. This career has included television gigs like ER, Bones, Gilmore Girls, and Trauma. And then there are films and awards such as being nominated for Best Supporting Actress at MethodFest for the Mynah Films feature film Fiona’s Script alongside Academy Award Nominees Alfre Woodard and Amy Irving.

Another entirely accidental career move for Giovannie is teaching acting. One of her acting coaches suggested Giovannie try teaching and then went on to hire her as an instructor in her studio school. This endeavor proved to be so satisfying, Giovannie opened her own school in  2008. Today she runs an online acting school HollywoodActorsWorkshop where she teaches budding young stars from all over the country. 

Students come to Giovannie for top-notch instruction backed by her credentials and a wealth of personal acting experience. When you are recently named one of the top 40 Audition Coaches in Los Angeles by the Hollywood Winners Circle, word gets around. And Giovannie is proving that she can teach her craft just as well as she can perform it.  Top agencies in the Bay Area and all around Los Angeles seek young actors who have learned their skills under Giovannie’s instruction. Current and former students regularly find work with industry powerhouses such as Disney, Dreamworks, Universal, Pixar, and more. 

As if that’s not enough, Giovannie also celebrates many accomplishments as a filmmaker. Her film “Ally3000” just won Best Screenplay at the Culture and Diversity Film Festival in Los Angeles. Further honors for this film include several categories at IndieFEST and International Best Shorts Competitions. Likewise, her recent acceptance into the Alliance of Women Directors undeniably validates her talents as a filmmaker. Clearly, with actor, teacher, and filmmaker filling her resume, Giovannie Espiritu has proven she has all the right stuff to multitask in the industry. More of her accomplishments can be found on her website GiovannieEspiritu.com.

But life hasn’t always been so easy for Giovannie. Born to a teenage mother in the slums of the Philippines, her start in life was filled with trauma. Growing up in poverty and subjected to abuse, Giovannie harbors some weighty burdens. Today her optimism is astounding; she is a staunch believer that ‘things will always work out.’ And while this mantra is often overused and definitely oversimplified, it is usually always true when there is a will to make it happen. And this has been the case for Giovannie.

Giovannie’s strength of character is undeniable. She is living, breathing proof that the American Dream is attainable. A survivor of poverty, abuse, and mental anguish inflicted while in the cult, Giovannie has risen above her disparaging past. However, her experiences remain a part of her, and she has found solace and success in using parts of her own life to inspire her craft. Recently, she won a pitch competition for a feature film script titled “Dis-Graced,” which is religious satire loosely based on her experiences coming out of the cult. 

But acting and its counterparts are not her only passions. Giovannie dedicates a great deal of time advocating for Domestic Violence Awareness/Prevention and LGBTQ equality. For her exceptional community service, including serving on the Board of Directors for C.O.R.A. — a Bay Area domestic violence hotline and agency — Giovannie was awarded a Certificate of recognition from the Senate. 

Actor, filmmaker, teacher, advocate — these are some of the hats Giovannie Espiritu wears, and she’s damn good at all of them. While acting is still a big part of her life, Giovannie finds herself gravitating to the other two creative outlets: filmmaking and teaching. It’s hard to say what is on the horizon for this amazingly talented and creative soul. But one thing is for certain — she’s a survivor, and she won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

For more on Giovannie Espiritu, visit her Insta page and Twitter account (@giospirit).Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and can not investigate relationships with brands, products, and people mentioned and is up to the author to disclose. VIP Contributors and Contributors, amongst other accounts and articles, are professional fee-based.