A first glance of the glamourous Gina Osborn belies her nearly 30 years as a crime fighter. The tall blonde who favors wearing high heels just retired after 22 years as an FBI agent. Before that, Osborn served six years in the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence agent in Germany during the waning years of the Cold War. Now, with decades of service to our country under her belt, Osborn is following her childhood dream of becoming a screenwriter and is encouraging young girls to join law enforcement.
When Osborn joined the FBI, she had already busted a few stereotypes through her service in the Army investigating the highest-profile espionage cases in the European theater. She worked Asian organized crime then quickly rose through the ranks to assistant special agent in charge for cyber and computer forensics. In other words, she’s a cybercrime expert. Osborn’s territory included Malibu, where she was responsible for investigations relating to national security and criminal computer hacking, crimes against children over the internet and intellectual property violations.
With her knowledge of law enforcement, Osborn is returning to writing, which she started as a preteen.
“When I was in junior high I practiced writing TV shows—penning scripts for ‘Laverne & Shirley’ and ‘Happy Days,” Osborn recalled. Upon retirement from the bureau in May, Madhouse Entertainment signed her for representation.
“I really enjoy writing about strong female characters,” she described. “Whether it’s in law enforcement or a Western I wrote. I like to write about adversity and the strength to overcome it. I don’t think we’re seeing depictions of women—real women in law enforcement—on television. They don’t go into the depth of what women really have to contend with. I bring a reality to that.”
Osborn continued, “The FBI and law enforcement are male dominated professions. When I started in the FBI back in 1996, we had 14 percent women agents. When I retired, only 20 percent of all agents were women. So, we only went up about six percent in the last 22 years. That’s one thing I would like to change.
“All the women who came before me made it easier for me as a woman—a minority—in law enforcement,” she continued. “I’ve tried to do the same thing by encouraging other women to come in. It’s all about helping each other.”
In 2014, Osborn created the FBI Cyber G Girl Academy. It was the first time four female assistant special agents in charge in Los Angeles—women executives in the bureau—came together for a project. Fourth- and fifth-graders from the elementary school Osborn attended as a child were invited. The purpose of the program is to get girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and also plant the seed of becoming an FBI agent someday. The program continues with 30 to 40 Girl Scouts coming to the regional computer forensics lab in Orange County on a monthly basis where female agents and intelligence analysts speak about possible careers in STEM and the FBI.
“Studies have shown that girls decide whether they are going to pursue STEM or not by eighth grade. We want to keep them interested,” Osborn said. The program also teaches girls internet safety.
“In order to become FBI agents, they need to make good decisions now,” she said. “You can’t post bad things online. Kids may not realize it will be reviewed by future employers. We teach them to help others and maintain the core value of the FBI if they want to become agents in the future.”
Osborn is mentoring girls, as she had an unlikely mentor herself, explaining, “As a kid, I loved the TV show ‘MASH.’ Alan Alda was great. The fact he was a writer, actor and director fascinated me. I loved the show because it was so profound to have comedy and tragedy all at once.” When Osborn was 16, she drove with flowers from her home in Orange County to the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles to deliver them to Alda. “I told the gate guard I had flowers for Alan Alda and he let me on the set. Alda was really generous with his time and gave me great advice and told me to go out and get experience. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years,” she chuckled. “Now I’m ready to make this my career.”
Osborn urges: “Don’t give up. If you have a dream—no matter how long it takes you to achieve it—just stay after it and be persistent. Have determination and make it come true.”