The woman whose life inspired Jennifer Lopez‘s 2019 film Hustlers is suing the singer cum actor for $40m.
Samantha Barbash filed a federal lawsuit against Lopez’s production company Nuyorican Productions, STX Entertainment, Gloria Sanchez Productions and Pole Sisters LLC claiming they tried to exploit her likeness and story in the hit film, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
She claims that she was approached repeatedly for her consent but did not give it.
The film is based on a New York magazine’s 2015 article “The Hustlers at Scores: The Ex-Strippers Who Stole From (Mostly) Rich Men and Gave to, Well, Themselves” by Jessica Pressler. The film tells the story of a group of New York strippers – led by Lopez’s Ramona – who drugged and robbed a number of Wall Street bankers in the months after the 2008 stock market crash.
Barbash pleaded guilty to conspiracy, assault and grand larceny for her role in the real-life scheme in 2016, ultimately serving five years of probation.
In the suit, Barbash reportedly alleges that a scene showing Ramona “using and manufacturing illegal substances in her home where she lived with her child” is untrue and offensive.
Barbash’s lawyer Bruno V Gioffre Jr told Rolling Stone:
“My client is offended that the defendants used her likeness to make over $150m, defamed her character and tried to trick her into selling her rights to the production company for a mere $6,000.”
Barbash is asking for $40m in punitive and compensatory damages.
In an interview with TMZ in September, Barbash said:
“They pretty much, basically, stole my story. I wouldn’t sign my rights away. I wasn’t giving up my film and TV rights for peanuts. J-Lo doesn’t work for free. Why would I?”
“J-Lo betrayed me since she didn’t even reach out to the woman that she’s portraying… People are going to see the movie because J-Lo’s on a stripper pole. I don’t even know how to do a – I’ve never been on a stripper pole like that in my life.”
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