Real-Life Inspiration for Jennifer Lopez's Hustlers Role 'Wasn't That Impressed' With the Movie
The stripper drama opened to an estimated $33.2 million, the highest opening of Jennifer Lopez's career
The movie is based on a true story detailed in a 2015 New York Magazine article titled “The Hustlers at Scores,” about New York City strippers who drugged their wealthy clients in order to use their credit cards to run up large bills at the strip club.
The article focused primarily on Roselyn “Rosie” Keo and Samantha Barbash, who are played by Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez, respectively, in the film. (Lorene Scafaria, the director of the film, changed their names to Destiny — Rosie’s counterpart — and Ramona — Samantha’s counterpart.)
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Barbash shared her thoughts on the movie, as well as Lopez’s portrayal of herself.
Though Barbash said she did not agree to participate in the production of the film, she saw Hustlers alongside family members and friends, including her 25-year-old son, on Saturday night in Manhattan.
“Everyone has been asking, ‘Did I see the movie?’ So I thought, Why don’t I just see the movie — because I knew I was going to have a lot of interviews about it this week,” she explained.
“I wasn’t really that impressed,” Barbash told Vanity Fair. “I was impressed with Jennifer. She was incredible. Her body looked incredible. She had it down to a T, but it wasn’t factual.”
“She had my birthmark that I have,” Barbash continued, referring to Lopez’s character Ramona. “I used to have a piercing on the top of my lip. She had it on the bottom. She had a tattoo on her finger. I had it on my wrist.”
However, Barbash said Ramona’s mannerisms were not similar to her own, explaining, “I am nothing like that in person.”
Barbash also said that the film’s emphasis on the friendship between Destiny and Ramona did not match her real-life experience. “She wasn’t a friend—she was a coworker… There was no sisterhood — it was business and that’s it,” she told Vanity Fair.
The one part of Hustlers that Barbash did love? Cardi B.
“I love Cardi,” Barbash said. “Her 10 minutes was a great 10 minutes… It’s funny because, when I first heard that the film was coming out, [my business partner] said [she wished] Cardi would have played me. Even though she is not an actress, she was in the strip club world and she gets it. She would have maybe played a better me. Not taking away from Jennifer. But just because Cardi was in the business.”
“There is no hatred,” Barbash added. “I am still a J. Lo fan. I’m a Bronx native, how could I not be?”
Barbash and Keo were eventually charged with two counts of conspiracy, four counts of grand larceny, two counts of assault and three counts of forgery, according to TIME. Both were sentenced to five years probation.
Since then, the women have moved on. Keo has written a book on the experience called The Sophisticated Hustler and joined the cast of the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, where she posed for photographs.
Barbash, like Keo, has also written a book called Underscore, which is set to hit shelves later this month. Barbash also owns a spa.
The film, which also stars Lizzo, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart and Julia Stiles, opened to an estimated $33.2 million last weekend, exceeding expectations and marking career highs for both Lopez and Wu.
Hustlers is in theaters now.