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Protecting and Entertaining

Author: Mimi Pollack
Created: 09 January, 2015
Updated: 13 September, 2023
4 min read

Dave Rivas a 911 dispatcher, a multi-talented voice over artist, actor, and sound designer.
Dave Rivas a 911 dispatcher, a multi-talented voice over artist, actor, and sound designer.

Dave Rivas has a unique way of connecting with people as both a 911 dispatcher for the San Diego Fire Department and a multi-talented voice over artist, actor, and sound designer.

This El Cajon native, who currently lives in Spring Valley, was an uninspired student in high school. Rivas found his inspiration in acting classes where his specialty was mimicking and doing different voices. He went on to Grossmont College to study theater and acting, and was mentored by retired teacher, Clark Myers.

However, he also realized that “show business was tough” and he needed to make a living, so he switched over to emergency medicine and was an EMT from 1986 to 1989.He then went into medical communications and has been working for the SDFD Communications Center since 1997.

All that time, he was looking back and he knew there was something missing in his life. He decided to go back and actively study voice over, acting, dancing, speech, and improvisation. This led to small acting and voice over jobs here and there as he was slowly building up his reputation.

Around 2006 he became a member of the theater company, Teatro Mascara Magica, founded by Bill Virchis. Every year at Christmas time, they present the play, “La Pastorela”. It is the longest running holiday show in San Diego. With the exception of December 2014, Rivas has been in the play every year since he joined the troupe. Due to prior commitments, he was unable to participate as an actor, but he did the sound design and was the graphic artist.

More importantly, he feels that through Virchis and Teatro Mascara Magica, he has learned about doing theater with the purpose of entertaining and enlightening. As he states, “Our shows have messages about the true meaning of Christmas, politics, human rights, Cesar Chavez, the history of California and recently, immigration issues. We did a play, “Detained in the Desert” by Josefina Lopez based on the work of the Border Angels and the SB 1070 bill passed in Arizona. This was our first show in residency at the La Jolla Playhouse”.

On a lighter note, in the fall of 2014, they also produced a Latino version of “The Odd Couple” with Paul Rodriguez and Mike Lopez. The play had a successful run.

Since his first show with TMM, Rivas has gone on to become a producer, director, sound and graphics designer, and casting director, as well as versatile actor. He has done work with the San Diego REP since 2006. He acted in the play “El Henry” in the summer of 2014. This play has been nominated for several awards. His next play will be “Oedipus, el Rey” in the spring produced by the San Diego REP.

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He still remembers his high school days and humble beginnings. He proudly states, “An important factor for TMM is not only to provide theatrical work for the community, but also to subsidize ticket prices, so people of all walks of life will be able to enjoy and afford theater. We also do a number of programs with students all over San Diego County. It is important for me to give back.”

Rivas has found another way of giving back and furthering his artistic career by creating “DaveyBoy Productions”. He has created a studio in his home, not only as a business for his voice over and sound design, but also to work with fellow and new actors, or just people interested in the business. He gives them instruction, direction and counseling on what to do next. In addition, he sets up portable studios for school presentations.

In 2011, Rivas, John Padilla and San Diego REP resident and co-founder of Culture Clash, Herbert Siguenza started a volunteer group called, Amigos del REP. They promote Latino playwrights, dancers, musicians, and artists of every kind. They have free staged readings every month, and produce surround events for all plays at the REP.

Their next surround event will be on Saturday, January 17th at the Lyceum Theater. This will be before Siguenza’s new play, “Steal Heaven”. It will be a Protest Poetry Slam.

Finally, Rivas take satisfaction in his various jobs and finds fulfillment in all he does, be it helping someone as a 911 dispatcher, working with students and fellow actors , or entertaining an audience and bringing a smile to their face.

Visit his website at

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