Is Kim Verdi Based on Benita Alexander’s Real Friend? Where is She Now?

Image Credit: Scott McDermott/Peacock

When NBC News producer Benita Alexander fell head over heels for then-renowned surgeon Paolo Macchiarini while filming a documentary about him in 2013, she believed she’d found her forever. In fact, as per Peacock’s ‘Dr. Death’ season 2, she even introduced him to her daughter and got engaged, with her only worry being the hit her reputation would take for crossing professional lines once they went public. Though little did she know this would soon be the least of her worries as it’d come to light that her fiancé was a con man through and through — something her best friend kind of already suspected.

Kim Verdi is Nancy Cumba-Johnson

Although the role of Benita’s best friend is fulfilled by Judy Reyes in the form of Kim Verdi in the aforementioned true crime anthology series, this position goes to Nancy Cumba-Johnson in real life. The truth is this duo has never once worked in the same company (unlike Kim), yet they have been close since at least the early to mid-1980s by having similar careers while calling New York their base. The former has almost always served as a television news producer, whereas the latter was an actress and spokesperson at Productions Plus as well as TheTalentShop right until around 2012 or 2013.

It thus comes as no surprise Benita and Nancy essentially went through everything together; whether it be weddings, divorces, childbirth, losses, or success, they were by each other’s side. That’s why the latter was a bit careful when it came to Paolo — his extravagant promises to her friend did make her glad she was finally being swept off her feet in the way she deserved, but she also worried. She didn’t want Benita to be left brokenhearted, so she double-checked some of this renowned surgeon’s claims before making her concerns clear, ultimately leading to their wedding being called off.

Nancy reportedly did suspect something was wrong since Paolo was just too charming and over the top, but she never expected him to be a complete liar — he’d planned nothing for the nuptials. Hence, of course, neither she nor fellow friend Leigh McKenzie hesitated to spontaneously accompany Benita to his Barcelona home to help her get some much-needed answers — it was June 2015. But alas, once this trio arrived in Europe around what should have been the producer’s wedding day at “the Pope’s summer residence,” things went from bad to worse as they couldn’t confront her ex either.

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Benita Alexander and Nancy Cumba-Johnson

That’s because when Nancy and Leigh rang Paolo’s doorbell, with Benita hiding in their rental car a few feet away, they learned he was living with a woman plus two children — his wife and kids. So, not wanting to create a possibly traumatizing scene in front of innocent strangers, the friends simply had a rather casual conversation with him before handing him a bottle of wine and scurrying away.

Nancy had secretly recorded this entire encounter, during which Paolo didn’t meet their gaze or invite them inside for even a second as anyone else might have done considering their shared past. She then obviously consoled Benita to the best of her abilities (just like Kim in the series) before encouraging her to share her truth with the world to let go and move on, which worked wonders.

Where is Nancy Cumba-Johnson Now?

From what we can tell through Nancy’s online presence at the moment, she has been based in Pompano Beach, Florida, since 2012/2013, where she serves as a proud mother, photographer, networker, creative entrepreneur, artist, plus automotive sales coach, facilitator, and trainer. Unfortunately, though, she is not at her full capacity right now because of her 2022 Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer diagnosis, for which she soon started and completed treatments.

Now cancer free, it appears as if Nancy definitely hasn’t lost her charm — in fact, she’s actually determined to share her story these days so as to raise awareness concerning the ailment. You can follow The Cumba Chronicles on all social media platforms. We should also mention that her support system had set up a GoFundMe page to help her cover all medical bills, mortgage, groceries, as well as other monthly expenses, so if you wish, you can still donate right here.

Read More: Dr. Death: Is Lizzi Based on Benita Alexander’s Daughter?