Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez as exotic dancer-turned-criminal ringleader Ramona is wowing audiences across the country, but the woman whose life the film is based on, Samantha Barbash, has some words to say about the film.
“I wasn’t really that impressed,” she said to 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.”
Among the errors is the fact that she never spoke on the record about her life to New York magazine journalist Jessica Pressler, unlike what is shown in the film between Ramona and Elizabeth, Julia Stiles’ journalist character. Barbash also said she never drugged the men she stole from, saying, “The majority of the guys were drugging themselves. They wanted to party.”
“Did the girls give them extra to keep partying? Probably, by all means. Did I drug anyone? Never in my life,” she continued. “Did I know the girls were doing it? One hundred percent. That’s why I got conspiracy charges.”
She also said she never came up with her own recipe for a drug, unlike what is portrayed in the film. She then added that she was “actually offended” the film portrayed her as someone who would create drugs “with her daughter in the house.”
“That’s attacking my character,” she said. “I’m a mother. My son is grown. But I’m still a mother.” The relationship between Ramona (Lopez) and Destiny (Constance Wu) was also something that never happened in real life between Barbash and Roselyn Keo, the woman the character Destiny is based on. “She wasn’t a friend,” said Barbash, “she was a coworker…There was no sisterhood–it was business and that’s it.”
The film is currently a huge hit at the box office, revitalizing a flagging year for female-led films. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film performed beyond expectations, earning $33.2 million in its first weekend, “the biggest live-action opening of Lopez’s 24-year film career.” Also, as we reported, the film was the biggest opening weekend for Wu, STX Entertainment and for a film featuring multiple women of color in leading roles, topping Girls Trip.
Along with Wu, Lopez and Stiles, Hustlers stars Cardi B, Keke Palmer, Lizzo, Lili Reinhart, Mercedes Ruehl, Trace Lysette and Mette Towley.