101 Reasons Why: the interview series

Marlene Sharp
3 min readDec 5, 2023

LA-based animation studio Neko Productions rolls into new territory between fact and fiction. Along with creator Ofir Lobel, Neko has a comedic middle grade graphic novel series in production. The title is 101 REASONS WHY, and the theme is kids’ creative explanations for all kinds of scrapes: lost homework, uneaten vegetables, half-finished chores, and the like. In other words, the books illuminate lengths to which adolescent excuses stretch. Lobel’s own childhood tall tales serve as inspiration.

In honor of the occasion, Neko presents an anthology of dialogues with adults who are former small fry. Herein lies interview #1 (of 101). The fearless interviewee is publicist and producer Deborah Gilels. The purpose of this exercise is pure entertainment, and to show how far good (or bad) excuses take a person in adulthood.

Neko via Marlene Sharp: What is your track record with excuses?

Deborah Gilels: If I give an excuse, most people believe me. So, I’d say, like, 95%.

NVMS: What was your best excuse and why?

DG: “I have to take *Ella to the vet.” It’s simple, and people can’t argue about it. It’s the kind of excuse that nobody will ask you questions about. They only wish you well.

NVMS: Do you have any tips for novice excusers?

DG: Don’t make anything up that sounds preposterous. Be as simple as possible. That’s how I made money in college.

NVMS: Oh? Please elaborate.

DG: My roommate and I had this alibi (or excuse) service. And if we invented something elaborate, then we’d make it believably elaborate.

NVMS: Could you give an example?

DG: Unexpectedly, your best friend came in from Paris. You hadn’t seen them in five (5) years. So you couldn’t really study. It was an emotional reaction.

NVMS: Fascinating! How did you get customers?

DG: Satisfied customers would refer others. But we started just by helping people: people who lived in our building. People started sending their friends, and we charged them for the time. I’d also play other roles. On the phone, I’d pretend that I’d have to see this person, that type of thing.

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Marlene Sharp

Marlene Sharp is a creative and business-savvy entertainment multi-hyphenate who originally hails from New Orleans but is now a (San Fernando) Valley girl.