In the film, Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu lead an impressive ensemble rounded out by the likes of Keke Palmer, Riverdale’s Lili Reinhart, and guest spots from Lizzo and Cardi B. J.Lo plays Ramona Vega, a confident, seasoned stripper and ringleader of the scam operation. Wu, on the other hand, plays Destiny, a newcomer to the scene who takes up stripping to support her family.
As Hustlers is based on real people and real events, Lopez’s Ramona is inspired by Samantha Barbash, known by her stage name, Samantha Foxx, while Wu’s Destiny is based on Roselyn Keo. The women told their story in a 2015 feature in The Cut, where they detailed their scheme to steal from rich men — a wildly successful enterprise until, well, they were caught.
But when that crazy journey came to an end, so did the two women’s friendship. In fact, it seems like they never really saw it as a friendship. In an interview with Vulture, Keo described her relationship with Barbash as more of a mutually beneficial (if illegal) business move. She said she hasn’t spoken to Barbash or seen any of the old crew since those days.
“It’s like when you move out of a neighborhood that wasn’t the greatest, and it’s like, why would you go backwards?” Keo said.
Keo’s life has calmed down considerably since her hustling days. She told Vulture she lives in the suburbs and is an MVP fundraiser for her daughter’s school’s PTA. She said she doesn’t go out much anymore — though she has been plenty active on social media during the Hustlers press cycle — and she is currently working on a book about her life: The Sophisticated Hustler.
Barbash, on the other hand, hasn’t been too thrilled about the attention. In April, she was considering suing STX Entertainment (the production company behind Hustlers) and Lopez for “defamation of character,” per the New York Post. Barbash also has her own tell-all book, Underscore, out this fall; she told Fox Business that the memoir offers up details of her life as a stripper, including a lavish Caribbean vacation and Louis Vuitton shopping sprees. Barbash currently runs a spa specializing in plastic and cosmetic surgery.