This Is Who The Real-Life Ramona Wanted To Portray Her In Hustlers

Photo: Courtesy of STX Films.

Her role as Ramona in scammer film Hustlers has already earned Jennifer Lopez Oscar buzz, but not everyone is thrilled with the portrayal — specifically, Samantha Barbash, real-life woman whom Ramona is based on. Barbash had an idea about who should have played her, and it’s a different member of the Hustlers cast. 

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Hustlers — which is based on Jessica Pressler’s The Cut article “The Hustlers At Scores” — tells the story of Dorothy (Constance Wu), a down-on-her-luck stripper who teams up with Ramona (Lopez) in order to steal money from wealthy clients.

In real life, Barbash pleaded guilty to conspiracy, assault and grand larceny in exchange for five years probation. In a new Vanity Fair interview, Barbash — who declined to participate in the film because she claimed the producers did not want to pay her enough — said that while there were some superficial similarities between her and Ramona, like a birthmark and choice of piercing, ultimately she had nothing real in common with Lopez’s portrayal of her. 

“As an actress, when you portray somebody, you are supposed to get to know somebody to portray their mannerisms,” explained Barbash to Vanity Fair, before adding that Lopez looked “phenomenal” on camera. 

One person who Barbash thinks could have done a better job? Cardi B, who appears in the film as a dancer where Lopez and Wu’s characters work. 

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“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," Barbash told the outlet. "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."

Still, Barbash declared in the interview that despite the drama, she is still "a J.Lo fan," especially as a Bronx native. When it comes to the person who can accurately portray her on screen, though, Barbash just wants them to have the experience of making money move at the strip club IRL.

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