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Former Strip Club Hostess Who Inspired ‘Hustlers’ Sues Jennifer Lopez’s Company For Millions

Samantha Barbash has accused Jennifer Lopez’s production company of ignoring her lack of consent and portraying her in their film anyway, defaming her in the process.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
Jennifer Lopez G

The woman who reportedly inspired Jennifer Lopez’s most recent film has hit the actress’ production company with a million-dollar lawsuit, claiming that Lopez never got her permission to portray her likeness and defamed her in the film.

Samantha Barbash, the former strip club hostess who was famously one of the ringleaders of a group of strippers accused of drugging and robbing rich men, was interviewed for the 2015 New York Magazine article, “The Hustlers at Scores.” That article, written by Jessica Pressler, inspired the 2019 film “Hustlers,” which stars Lopez as a character seemingly based on Barbash, and for which Lopez nabbed a Golden Globe nomination.

Barbash, however, has repeatedly criticized the film and, this week took her complaints to a court of law. The former strip club hostess filed a defamation suit in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, January 7, Page Six reports. While Lopez herself was not actually named in the suit, Lopez’s production company, Nuyorican Productions, was, as were STX Financing, Gloria Sanchez Productions, Pole Sister LLC, and a number of individuals identified only as John and Jane Does, according to the outlet.

Barbash claims that the film’s producers reached out to her in order to “obtain a consent and waiver from Ms. Barbash for the production of the film and their ultimate portrayal” of her, but she did not consent; however, they “exploited” her likeness anyway, according to court documents obtained by The Blast.

The film, starring Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, and Lili Reinhart, follows a group of strippers as they carry out a scheme to squeeze hundreds of thousands of dollars out of their Wall Street clients, with Lopez starring as a veteran stripper who comes up with the money-making plot. But Barbash, who has argued that she was never a stripper, said in her suit that the film paints her in a negative light, according to Page Six.

“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 suit reads.

She claimed that Lopez’s portrayal of her is offensive, and pointed specifically to a scene wherein Lopez’s character is seen “using and manufacturing illegal substances in her home where she lived with her child,” according to The Blast.

Barbash is asking for $20 million in compensatory damages, in addition to $20 million in punitive damages, the outlet reports.

She has also reportedly requested that producers stop releasing the film, and instead hand over every copy of the movie, as well as any promotional materials, according to Page Six.

Lopez has not commented publicly on the suit, and the outlet reports that none of the production companies listed in the suit have responded to their requests for comment.

This isn’t Barbash’s first time criticizing Lopez and "Hustlers." Barbash said in April that she planned to sue over the film, and complained that the movie’s — and the 2015 article’s — portrayal of her as a stripper was false, commenting that she was not “going on poles and stuff,” according to the New York Post.

She also blasted Lopez for allegedly never reaching out to her, remarking, “It’s my story she’s making money off of. If she wants to play me, then she should have gotten the real story.”

For her role in the scheme, Barbash dodged any time behind bars but was given a five-year probation sentence in 2017 after pleading guilty to conspiracy, assault, and grand larceny, the New York Post reports. She now reportedly makes a living running a spa.