‘Hustlers’ inspiration sues Jennifer Lopez’s company for $40 million


Jennifer Lopez’s production company is being sued for $40 million by the woman whose story inspired the movie’s Ramona character.

Samantha Barbash is alleging Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions used her likeness and story without her permission and defamed her in the movie that resulted, TMZ reported Tuesday. Barbash reportedly says in the suit that she was approached repeatedly for her consent but did not give it.

“Hustlers” was written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, who adapted the story from a 2015 New York magazine article that included the real-life Barbash.


The movie tells the loosely fictionalized story of strippers, led by Lopez’s Ramona, who go rogue after the 2008 financial crisis. The strippers con wealthy clients, teasing and drugging them and stealing thousands of dollars the men are unlikely to miss the next morning.

Lorene Scafaria’s “Hustlers” reframes how strippers are seen on-screen, with the help of a rock solid ensemble including Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart and Cardi B.

Sept. 8, 2019

Barbash told TMZ in September that Lopez never consulted with her about how to play the Ramona character.

In the suit, TMZ said, Barbash says a scene that shows Ramona “using and manufacturing illegal substances in her home where she lived with her child” is untrue and offensive.

Barbash reportedly is asking for $20 million in punitive damages and $20 million in compensatory — and wants the company to turn over every copy of the movie, which made $157 million worldwide.

“While we have not yet seen the complaint, we will continue to defend our right to tell factually based stories based on the public record,” STXfilms spokesman Steve Elzer said late Tuesday.

Lopez told The Times in September that the strippers in the story were simply women who wanted to have control over their own destinies.


“But their focus on money, especially my character Ramona’s, sent them down a slippery slope,” Lopez said. “Did she end up being any different than the powerful people she was trying to hustle? That’s for the audience to decide.”