Long before the name Matthew Specktor was inscribed on Samantha Culp’s heart, it could be found beneath a short, sweet note inscribed on a page of Mr. Specktor’s book, “American Dream Machine,” which she bought at a benefit at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles in June 2013.

“With warmest wishes,” Mr. Specktor, 54, wrote, “and thanks, hope you enjoy.”

Ms. Culp, 38, a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and producer, recalled suffering from jet lag that day as she had flown home two days earlier from Shanghai, where she spent a decade living and working as a journalist, art curator and consultant. She wrote for The South China Morning Post, and served as a consultant for cultural projects and institutions. “I read his book and thought, ‘Wow, this guy is an amazing writer,’” said Ms. Culp, who graduated from Yale.

“He had such apt observations of the strange beauty of our shared hometown, and also a similarly oblique connection to Hollywood that I do, growing up within it and seeing both its magic and its flaws,” she said. “It was exciting to discover a new writer whose work I really loved.”

Ms. Culp was a producer for the Netflix crime documentary series “Exhibit A” in 2019 and for “The Confession Tapes” in 2017. Now in its second season, “The Confession Tapes,” which tells of wrongful convictions, was nominated for best episodic series by the International Documentary Association. She is also a fellow for the Power of Diversity Master Workshop run by the Producers Guild of America.