Faneal Godbold chose a career in what was once a man’s world, law enforcement. Although during her school years she had enjoyed participating in theater and drama, the real-world career path she followed as an adult was anything but glamorous.
Law enforcement was a magnet for the North Carolina native. Her father, grandfather, and uncle all worked in law enforcement. Godbold’s dad did what a lot of parents do—instructed her to “get a job so you can pay your bills.”
It’s likely Godbold’s dad didn’t envision his daughter appearing on TV, film, and commercials. How did she make the leap from law and order on the streets to justice on the big screen?
It’s an interesting story.
Godbold first earned a BS in criminal justice. She’d long participated in sports, acquiring a sense of discipline and teamwork. After college, she worked in law enforcement, training in tactical weapons and police procedures, according to her official bio.
As her career progressed, she learned new skills necessary for a profession with an innate risk most people can’t imagine. If you’re a cop, you don’t know for sure you’re going to go home alive on any given day. “It takes a certain type of person to do the job as long as I have,” she said. As an example, she said there’s no way to know what a cop feels sometimes, until, for example, you pull a car at night in the middle of nowhere, having no idea what to expect. One example? You pull a a car with a broken tail light and learn the occupant had murdered three people.
Godbold worked on a lot of investigations, but one in particular stands out. She’d worked on a high profile murder case. In 2009, the popular Investigation Discovery network took note and approached her. That led to her being part of the first episode of the series Scorned—Love Kills.
Godbold had always loved performing arts, revisiting that passion in college. She knew opportunity was knocking. She told herself, “This is it.” A dream was rekindled.
Put that dream in context. Godbold had grown up in a rural area in the South. “Movie stars are on TV. You live in this tiny country town.”
It’s a given she had to be tough to succeed in law enforcement, traditionally a career dominated by males. She loved her work. But that 2009 experience with the ID series, coupled with that keen interest in the arts, led her to chart a new path.
She hasn’t looked back. And she knows her LE work was a rung on the ladder. “I have a particular set of skills,” she said. “You can’t pay for the training I have…if you line up ten people with my experience, you’ll have ten men. I can actually do what they are trying to portray [on screen].”
Naturally she loves the new wave of female super hero films. Atomic Blond is a favorite. Her avatar is Captain Marvel. Godbold believes she has “what this industry needs”—real life experience. She also hopes to defy stereotypes, such as casting calls searching for a “sexy mom” or just “wife” or “girlfriend.”
Now, the industry most of us call “Hollywood” is changing, she said. There are more female-driven roles that aren’t confined to traditional choices. Her career, she said, “is moving forward.”
It’s easy to see why Godbold is such an asset on the screen. She has one of those faces the camera loves. She has eyes you cannot stop looking at. Her demeanor is authoritative, and you get the idea she has never viewed herself as a victim of any kind.
Godbold has a double-edged sword. She can work as a LE liaison, providing expertise on sets. Or she can act roles authentically because she did it in the real world. She’s already amassed film and TV credits such as appearing in the much anticipated film In Utero. She just finished filming in ID’s season 3 of Married with Secrets. She’s also in the Superman Fan Film Nascent Nation. She’s appeared in the TV series Nashville. Other credits include the TV film HAON. Soon fans will see her in the 2018 release I Am Going to Kill Someone This Friday.
At present, Godbold is going forward with bigger plans that include working on a novel. She travels a lot as might be expected. She will be in Jacksonville soon, for a shoot on a new film.
Now that’s she’s converted her law enforcement career into a career in the arts, Godbold said her parents are “very supportive” of her decision. One thing hasn’t changed, though. They still want to “be sure” their daughter’s work will “pay the bills.” Judging the credits she’s earned, Godbold’s parents probably shouldn’t worry too much about that. Godbold is definitely “moving forward.”
(Kay B. Day/Feb. 1, 2018)
Ed. Note: This article has been updated to correct an errant link to the film In Utero. The correct link has been inserted. The article has been edited to change “critically acclaimed” to “much anticipated.” There are two films with similar names. We apologize for the mixup. [2/1/18: 6:19 p.m.; 2/2/18: 2:42 p.m.]