Woman who inspired Jennifer Lopez's "Hustlers" role files lawsuit

Florey DM
Jennifer Lopez is in trouble with the law thanks to her role in "Hustlers".
Jennifer Lopez is in trouble with the law thanks to her role in "Hustlers".

9 Jan – Anytime Hollywood does a movie based on true events, there will be real-life counterparts of the movie's fictional characters that will file a lawsuit against it.

Jennifer Lopez knows this, since she's currently getting hustled for her "Hustlers" role.

Samantha Barbash, the woman who inspired Lopez's stripper character Ramona Vega, has filed a defamation suit against the filmmakers.

"My client is offended that the defendants used her likeness to make over USD150 million, defamed her character and tried to trick her into selling her rights to the production company for a mere USD6000.00," said Barbash's lawyer, Bruno V. Gioffre, Jr., to Rolling Stone.


Lopez's Nuyorican Productions, STX Films, Gloria Sanchez Productions and Pole Sisters LLC are the defendants named in the lawsuit, which claims that despite Barbash declining to give away her life rights to the filmmakers, the defendants "proceeded to exploit Ms. Barbash's likeness and character for the film and the promotion thereof."

It also claims that the defendants "engaged in a systematic effort to make it well-known that JLO was playing Ms. Barbash" instead of creating a composite character or fictional version of her life.


Samantha Barbash is unhappy that Jennifer Lopez's character, which is inspired by her,
is portrayed as a stripper.

Barbash has been threatening lawsuit months before "Hustlers" opened in US cinemas last September. She told The New York Post last April that she was putting a stop to it because she was being misrepresented.

"I was never a stripper. It's defamation of character," said Barbash, who previously worked as a hostess.

The Hollywood Reporter states that Barbash is seeking at least USD40 million in damages. She is also "asking the court for an injunction banning distribution of the film and ordering defendants to give her all copies of the material."

The 2019 movie was based on Jessica Pressler's 2015 New York Magazine story, "The Hustlers at Scores", which was in turn based on Barbash's experience as a strip club employee. Barbash teamed up with exotic dancer Roselyn Keo to scam the club's married wealthy regulars by drugging them and emptying their bank accounts.

The movie version sees Lopez's character, Vega, similarly teaming up with Destiny (Constance Wu) to pull off the scam.