In Hustlers, Jennifer Lopez plays Ramona, an exotic dancer who leads a girl gang of fellow exotic dancers to steal loads of money from their Wall Street clients with sultry dance moves. JLo is getting critical acclaim and even Oscar buzz for the role, but the real life woman she is portraying is not as big of a fan of the flick. Samantha Barbash, who also is a Bronx native, is making her own press rounds and telling her own version of the story.
“I wasn’t really that impressed,” Samantha revealed 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.” According to Samantha, the movie got some physical things correct, but didn't really get the essence of her. “She had my birthmark that I have. I used to have a piercing on the top of my lip. She had it on the bottom. She had a tattoo on her finger. I had it on my wrist,” she explained, adding that her mannerisms were off target. “I am nothing like that in person.”
She continued: “As an actress, when you portray somebody, you are supposed to get to know somebody to portray their mannerisms."
There is one star who she thinks would have done her justice. "Cardi B," she admitted. "I love Cardi. Her 10 minutes was a great 10 minutes…It’s funny because, when I first heard that the film was coming out, [my business partner] said [she wished] Cardi would have played me. Even though she is not an actress, she was in the strip club world and she gets it. She would have maybe played a better me. Not taking away from Jennifer. But just because Cardi was in the business.”
Despite her not agreeing with the film's choices she still has much love for the 50-year-old actress. “There is no hatred,” she says. “I am still a JLo fan. I’m a Bronx native, how could I not be?”
In real life, Samantha was charged with conspiracy, assault and grand larceny and was sentenced to five years probation. A version of her story was published in a New York Magazine piece that was eventually used as the building blocks to making Hustlers. However, she disagrees with the way the story portrayed her life and decided to tell her version in her upcoming memoir Underscore. “I was never looking for fame,” she shared. “I was out of the public eye ever since my court case was over. The reason I got back in the public eye was because of Jennifer playing me. With that being said, they were going to give the Hollywood version. I was going to give the real version.”