Jennifer Lopez’s production company is being sued for $40 million (£30 million) by the women whose life inspired the lead characters in Hustlers.
Samantha Barbash has claimed that Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions used her likeness and story without her permission. She says that she was approached repeatedly for consent but did not give it.
Adapted from a viral New York Magazine story titled “The Hustlers at Scores”, the film tells the true story of a group of New York strippers who drugged and robbed a number of Wall Street bankers in the months after the 2008 financial crash. Jennifer Lopez plays Ramona, the ringleader of the con, with Constance Wu as Destiny, her second-in-command and the dramatic retelling’s protagonist. They’re joined by an all-star cast that includes Lili Reinhart, Cardi B, Lizzo, and more.
Now, Barbash, who served five years of probation, pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy, assault, and grand larceny, is suing Lopez for depicting Ramona “using and manufacturing illegal substances in her home where she lived with her child”, which she maintains is untrue and offensive.
Barbash’s lawyer told Rolling Stone: “My client is offended that the defendants used her likeness to make over $150m (£114m), defamed her character and tried to trick her into selling her rights to the production company for a mere $6,000 (£4,500).”
In an interview with TMZ, 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?”
She continued: “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.”