Hustlers, a great film outwardly about a group of strippers who drug and extort wealthy strip club attendees but actually about class war, was a hit with critics, moviegoers, and me. It was not however, a hit with Samantha Barbash, the real-life inspiration for Jennifer Lopez’s Ramona.
In September, Barbash told Vanity Fair she was not impressed with the film, and disputed some of the events depicted (chiefly, that she was involved in the drugging and robbery, though she did plead guilty to conspiracy, assault, and grand larceny in 2017). Now, apparently, she’s suing.
Page Six reports that on Tuesday Barbash filed a $20 million suit against Nuyorican Productions, Lopez’s production company. The suit alleges the film “exploited” her likeness without her permission, and that she explicitly did not sign waivers allowing her likeness to be used. Lopez is not named in the suit.
Per Page Six:
“The film depicts Ms. Barbash, played by Jennifer Lopez (“JLO”) as the ringleader of a group of adult dancers who drugged their patrons and stole exuberant amounts of money from them while in their incapacitated state,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants did not take caution to protect the rights of Ms. Barbash by creating a fictionalized character, or by creating a composite of characters to render JLO’s character a new fictitious one; rather they engaged in a systematic effort to make it well-known that JLO was playing Ms. Barbash.”
“Anyone who views the film will believe Plaintiff to be an individual of little to no moral or ethical values, devoid of any loyalty to her colleagues, under the influence of hard drugs, and with misandrist tendencies,” the court papers read.
In the aforementioned Vanity Fair article, Barbash said she didn’t think Lopez resembled her in the film, thought Cardi B, who had a small role, would have done a better job portraying her. “Not taking away from Jennifer,” she said at the time. “But just because Cardi was in the business.”