Gabriella walked into the coffee shop and scanned the room self-consciously. Would she remember what Rina Levitan looked like? She’d only seen her once, up on stage, and people surely looked different when not hidden under gobs of makeup or viewed from 38 rows back.

Melanie had graciously given her an extended lunch break, and squeezed her hand before she’d left, telling Gabriella to “break a leg.”

Gabriella had rolled her eyes affectionately. “Careful, Doc. What if I actually break my leg, and then sue you for malpractice?”

“What in the world would you be able to sue me for?”

Gabriella shrugged. “Wrongful usage of showbiz clichés? Come on, Mel, I’m a film producer, not some starlet actress.”

I’m a film producer. She’d always loved saying those words, with just the right mix of casualness and class. Yeah, it was fun to make eyes widen, to know she gave off an aura of cool and artsy and talented and different. To not have to say, “Oh, I’m a speech therapist.”

Oh, I’m a medical secretary.

She scanned the room once more. Rina must not have come yet.

“Table for two, please,” she told the waitress, and as the girl led her to her seat, she felt her anxiety rising. What kind of impression would she give off? What would Rina say when she found out that Gabriella, passing herself off as a film producer, hadn’t actually produced a film in over a decade? She could just picture it: Rina would ask her for some recent work samples, and Gabriella would be forced to send her parents’ anniversary video.

What a joke. Doug had been right. She didn’t have the experience, she was pretending to be more than she was, and Rina Levitan was going to leave this meeting laughing her head off at Gabriella’s pretensions.

“Hi, are you Gavriella?”

Gabriella looked up. Rina Levitan looked almost as striking standing here in Café Corner in her purple print dress and silver choker as she did in a glittery evening gown onstage.

She rose and held out her hand. “It’s Gabriella. Nice to meet you.”

“Oh, sorry, I thought maybe you anglicized it for those film school people.”

Rina sat down, her eyes roaming Gabriella’s face. “I was really curious to meet you. Ever since they told me they had a producer to recommend who’s a religious Jew… well, I was wondering how a frum Jew ends up in such a place.” She raised her eyebrow questioningly.

Gabriella shifted in her seat. Was this part of the job interview? And what kind of answer was Rina looking for? She lifted her chin. She had nothing to be ashamed of.

“I was at a different — uh — phase of my religious life, back then,” she said.

“Oh, you’re a baalas teshuvah?” Rina said quickly, her eyes alight. “Wow, that’s—”

“Not exactly,” Gabriella interrupted.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 598)