In nearly 2 decades since graduating from Staples High School, Gabi Conti did a lot.
At Emerson College she studied broadcast journalism, and writing for TV and film.
She moved to Los Angeles, worked as a production assistant for Comedy Central, did stand-up and sketch comedy, wrote videos and editorials, and blogged about her comedic musings. She hosted shows on Snapchat, YouTube and other platforms.
Gabi wrote “20 Guys You Date in Your 20s.” (The first guy was actually a fellow Stapleite, when she was 16. But he made the cut, because they reconnected a decade later.)
Then came the wedding of her longtime friend and fellow Staples Player alum Emily Hardin, in Los Angeles.
Gabi noticed a woman with “great style.” They chatted; the woman said she loved Gabi’s dress, and introduced herself: “I’m Jane Green.”
Jane knew Gabi’s name; the best-selling author loved her true crime podcast, “Am I Dating a Serial Killer?!”
They talked about their Westport connections, Jane’s friendship with Emily’s parents, and that Emily’s new husband Tommy Lombardi had written with Jane before.
After the wedding, Gabi and Jane followed each other on social media. Jane told Gabi she was developing a podcast network of original scripted fiction with another Westporter, Spencer Brown. (It always comes back to this town.)
One of the shows was called “Bad Influencer.” A “13 Gong on 30″/”Big”-style romantic comedy set in New York, it’s about a wannabe nobody who makes a wish, wakes up as a famous influencer — and finds herself caught in non-stop scandals.
Gabi knew a lot about the influencer world. Jane asked her to write the series.
Writing for audio only is not easy. Yet Gabi learned quickly. She banged out 9 episodes, each 20 to 30 minutes long.
“It’s written for millennials like me,” Gabi explains. “But Generation Z will enjoy it too.”
There are “nods to traditional rom-coms. If you love pop culture and celebrity scandals, you’ll love this.”
Gabi took on a producing role, helping secure actual, real-live influencers and celebrities.
Then she headed to Gemini XIII‘s Emerald Audio studio in New York, for production.
The episodes were finished in 2 days, plus another in L.A. Gabi played a few of the characters herself.
She is pleased with the project. “Jane and I are on the same page,” she says. “It all just came together, like what I had in my head.”
Of course, there’s one more Westport connection.
When Gabi was part of the casting process, she noticed a familiar name: Adam Kaplan.
Could he be the same Adam Kaplan who was a freshman in Staples Players when she was a senior — and went on to fame in shows like “Kinky Boots,” “Newsies” and “A Bronx Tale“?
He was indeed.
Jane — who, as the mother of a Staples Player, knew of Adam too — agreed with Gabi and the casting director: He was their first choice.
“He’s such a pro,” Gabi says. “He played his role” — the best friend of the nobody wannabe, before she becomes famous — “so well.”
“Bad Influencer” will be released this spring.
By then, there may be more Westport connections to report.
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