A real-life stripper who inspired Jennifer Lopez's character in Hustlers is threatening a lawsuit, claiming the actress and the studio behind the movie “stole her story”.
Samantha Barbash’s legal team, according to TMZ, sent a letter to the production studio behind the film, STX Entertainment.
The “Hustlers” inspiration is not only seeking compensation for exploiting her image, but also for using her identity without permission.
"I wouldn't sign my rights away... I wasn't giving up my TV and film rights for peanuts. J.Lo doesn't work for free. Why would I? I'm a businesswoman," says Barbash.
Barbash insisted that Lopez hadn’t reached out to her to study her mannerisms and likeness, and the actress had "defamed" her character.
Jennifer Lopez has not yet commented on the news.
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"She didn't even reach out to the woman that she's portraying. I think that's like a little, kind of degrading as an actress. Without J. Lo they wouldn't have a movie honestly. There's no storyline, it's just Jennifer."
Barbash's lawyer Bruno Gioffre was quoted as saying their client "unequivocally rejected all offers to be included in the film," and that STX should seek to resolve "the flagrant violation of her rights."
The actual sum of compensation hasn’t been disclosed, yet the letter mentions an unnamed Hustlers producer approached her with an offer to agree to the use of her likeness.
While she was critical of Jennifer Lopez and the film as a whole, the real-life stripper had praise for Cardi B.
"Cardi was in the strip club business. I think with acting lessons she would have been great," she said.
The film Hustlers, which premiered on 12 September, is a revenge tale about strip-club employees who join forces against the Wall Street guys who are their clients, starring Jennifer Lopez, who is also one of the film’s producers.
The script is based on a true story, described in Jessica Pressler’s article for The Cut titled Hustlers at Scores.
She wrote the piece after speaking to Barbash and Keo, two of the women who lured Wall Street’s high earners to strip clubs as they conspired to rob them of their savings.
Besides Grammy-nominated singer and actress Jennifer Lopez, also cast are Constance Wu and Grammy award winner Cardi B – who herself once worked as a stripper.