Quarter Life* web series showcases alumna talent


Do your favorite shows include Master of None or Girls?  If so, consider checking out Westminster 2010 alumna Celia Quillian’s new web series, Quarter Life*, which centers on the lives of Celia and Shelli, writers for a magazine. The show follows their developing friendship and their lives in the quarter-life era.

“Celia and Shelli are exaggerated personas of [Quillian and Shelli Delgado], and our writing sprung off of that,” said Quillian.

Quillian met Delgado while they were both a part of the Georgia Ensemble Theater in Roswell, Georgia, and bonded over their shared desire to make people laugh.

“We thought that maybe we could create something and use it for our resumes,” said Quillian. “Now I’ve developed an amazing friendship with someone while making this happen.”

The series consists of seven  ten-minute episodes, each touching on a specific theme, which include work, finding new friends out of college, health and fitness, safety, trying to find a purpose, friendship, specifically female friendship, and dating. Quillian and Delgado came up with the backbone of each episode before coming together to write.

“We invented the ideas in our heads and it was largely influenced from things we encountered in our day-to-day lives,” said Quillian. “It’s comedy with a sense of absurdism.”

Quillian’s tenth grade English teacher, Kristin Hunter, particularly remembers Quillian’s sense of humor.

“In English class, [Quillian] would come up with particularly thoughtful insights, but then she would say something really hilarious,” said Hunter. “She has the qualities of a comedic actress, like Tina Fey or Amy Poehler, who are smart women that pick up on the quirks of language and behavior, yet aren’t afraid to be silly.”

Quillian’s time at Westminster influenced her decision to go into filmmaking. After joining the school in second grade, she began a career in theater in seventh grade that she continued past her graduation in 2010 and into her college years at Wake Forest University.

“Theater was something that was incredibly important to me,” said Quillian. “It made me love acting and made me far more outgoing than I would have been.”

Her favorite productions during her time as a Westminster Player include Thoroughly Modern Millie, Oklahoma!, and The Taming of the Shrew.

“During my senior year I was president of the theater troupe, on the Lynx staff, and a peer leader,” said Quillian. “The Westminster work ethic of wearing many hats at the same time really prepared me for [creating Quarter Life*].”

Quillian also developed a love of writing while at Westminster.

“I had an amazing teacher, Mrs. Dalbo in fourth grade,” said Quillian. “She made sure everyone did creative writing and she got me really involved in theater as she had us do a lot of memorizing of poetry and plays.”

Diane Dalbo, currently a second grade teacher, has many memories of Quillian and her writing. Quillian showed star quality from an early age, something her teachers all remember.

“Celia was part of the first class I taught at Westminster and she was just so high energy and so creative,” said Dalbo. “One time, she wrote a 50-page story and read it to the class. I won’t forget her moment of triumph when everyone clapped after she had finished. We had a lot of good writers that year, but Celia stretched everybody else.”

Dalbo has kept in touch with Quillian and followed Quillian’s acting career through Wake Forest as well since Dalbo’s son-in-law is a professor at Wake.

“I met with [Quillian] this summer and we talked about her future plans,” said Dalbo. “[Quillian’s] real goal is not about her or her career; it’s to make the world a better place and she’s doing it through storytelling both on the stage and in writing.”

The entire process for the web series, beginning with an idea and ending with production, has been much longer than Quillian or Delgado expected. They started writing Quarter Life* last year, but have since encountered a few roadblocks.

“We initially wrote six episodes in May,” said Quillian. “But then life got in the way.”

In October, Quillian and Delgado got back together and wrote one last episode.

“What we ended up writing was better than expected,” said Quillian. “We had to put on our production caps on because we had never produced something of this level or size before. The amount of things we have to do is more work than I had ever expected, but we take it a little bit at a time.”

In November, they launched a number of social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and a friend made a Quarter Life* graphic for them as well. They also put out a casting call for 10 characters and wound up receiving over 500 submissions in the span of a week. By the end of December, they finished the initial stages of the casting calls. In January, they finished casting, re-edited the script, and made a shot list in preparation for production.  They also created a page on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding website, and now  they have surpassed their goal.

“I am a procrastinator,” said Quillian.  “If I didn’t have a co-creator, nothing would ever get done!”

Quillian and Delgado plan to film in mid-March and once everything has been edited, Quarter Life* will be ready for its release. Throughout the entire process, Quillian has been pleasantly surprised by how everything has fallen in place.

“It’s amazing how things keep working out,” said Quillian. “For example, we write really specific roles that we think no one can fill it, but then someone comes along and does exactly that.”

Casting has been one of the most difficult parts of putting Quarter Life* together, and the longest. Quillian and Delgado allowed everyone to audition for any role that they wanted.

“It’s really lucky that we are in Atlanta because of its emerging film industry,” said Quillian. “We wanted a diverse cast that reflected the diversity of Atlanta.”

The response to Quarter Life* has also surprised Quillian. They have gathered about 2,000 followers across their three social media channels. Starting from a low-scale production, the crew is constantly grateful for generous feedback and support.

“We were really surprised that there is an actual interest in the show,” said Quillian. “Recently, we had a launch party for our Indiegogo at the Square Pub in Decatur. We expected only about 20 friends to show up, but we had an amazing turnout. It’s a testament to the South. Everyone is eager to lend a helping hand.”

In the future, Quillian hopes to continue working on Quarter Life*. With all the work put into it, Quillian hopes the progress will continue.

“In my dream scenario, we get to keep working on this project for another year or another couple of seasons. We have so many ideas of what to write,” said Quillian. “This has opened up a new lens in terms of career possibilities.”

For aspiring actors, writers, and producers, Quillian offers a few pieces of advice.

“You are never too young to make something happen. Be open to trying new things of your own,” said Quillian. “There are so many great opportunities in Atlanta for the film industry.”