The real-life woman who inspired Jennifer Lopez’s character in Hustlers is suing the production company for using her likeness and her story without permission. She’s also claiming that they defamed her in the process.
Jennifer Lopez plays Ramona Vega in the acclaimed 2019 film, Hustlers, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award. However, the movie was based on Jessica Pressler’s 2015 New York magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores,” written about real-life strippers in New York City clubs.
Samantha Barbash was one of the women interviewed for the article and served as inspiration for J Lo’s character in the movie. But Barbash is less than pleased to see her likeness and story on the big screen after she never gave permission to producers.
Barbash, who is being represented by attorney Bruno Gioffre Jr., has filed a federal lawsuit against Nuyorican Productions, which is Lopez’s production company. STX Entertainment, Gloria Sanchez Productions, and Pole Sisters LLC are also named in the lawsuit.
She claims that they tried to “exploit” her likeness in the successful film, according to court documents.
One of the film’s producers had contacted the ex-stripper to get her consent for the movie, but Barbash rejected what she deemed a “disrespectful,” lowball offer. But even after refusing to sign any of the consent waivers, the company moved forward with production anyway.
The lawsuit alleges that the “defendants did not take caution to protect the rights of Ms. Barbash by creating a fictionalized character.”
They instead went through great lengths “to make it well-known that J Lo was playing Ms. Barbash,” and the movie even recreated published images of the ex-stripper, like the infamous photo in which Barbash flashed double middle fingers to photographers while exiting a courthouse.
On top of that, Barbash says the movie defames her by portraying the character “using and manufacturing illegal substances in her home where she lived with her child,” which she says is untrue and offensive.
Barbash is suing for a total of $40 million: $20 million in compensatory damages, and $20 million in punitives. She’s also trying to get an order requiring producers to turn over all copies of the movie.