The real-life inspiration for Jennifer Lopez’s character Ramona in “Hustlers” insisted she despises the newfound attention she’s receiving after the hit film made over $33 million in its opening weekend.
The film, based on the 2015 New York Magazine article titled “The Hustlers At Scores,” follows a group of Manhattan strippers as they discover they can make serious money by turning the tables on their wealthy Wall Street clientele. The story has been compared to that of a “Robin Hood” tale in that the ladies would argue they were stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
“I hate it,” Samantha Barbash told Fox News. “I didn’t want all of this media. I wasn’t in the media for years since everything happened. I wanted to remain low-key. I’m a business owner, I’m married — I’m not looking for fame.”
Vanity Fair previously reported Barbash has made headlines for the first time since 2017 when she pleaded guilty to conspiracy, assault and grand larceny in exchange for five years’ probation. She, along with other colleagues, allegedly drugged men and stole at least $200,000 from them.
Barbash said she was long in the process of writing her book titled “Underscore” and was gearing up to turn her life story into a series when the production company behind “Hustlers” reached out to her about the film. However, Barbash said they made an offer she quickly refused — for good reason.
"I’m a business owner, I’m married — I’m not looking for fame."
“The production company contacted my lawyer several times, but Jennifer doesn’t work for free so why should I?” she said. “I denied their offer. I didn’t want to partake in the movie because I wasn’t going to give up my TV and film rights. I knew that I wanted to do this series and that I was going to do it. I wasn’t going to give up my rights to use my story on TV or film. I had already known at that point that I was going to do a series. And besides that… I don’t even want to embarrass them and say what they were trying to offer me… I guess that’s Hollywood for you.”
Barbash also claimed that Lopez, 50, never reached out about portraying her.
“I’m not going to badmouth Jennifer,” said Barbash. “I respect her as an actress. She looked beautiful in the film. But I don’t think there’s a storyline. There wouldn’t be a movie without Jennifer… Even though I didn’t want to partake in the movie, she never took the time to shadow me, to study my mannerisms. And as an actress playing that type of movie, based on someone’s life — that’s just what you do as an actress. So I was very disappointed in that, especially since she knows my friend’s father extremely well.”
There was also one scene in “Hustlers” that rubbed Barbash the wrong way — so much so that she walked out of the theater.
“[The scene] where they’re cooking drugs with the child in the house — that never happened,” said Barbash. “I felt like the movie defamed my character and defamed me as a mother. I walked out of the movie theater because I was very upset.”
A rep for Lopez did not return to Fox News’ request for comment. But according to Barbash, the damage is already done.
“I don’t really have a comment,” said Barbash on what she would tell Lopez if the star were to call her today. “I don’t have too many nice things to say. To be honest, they’re making millions off of something that I and my son suffered for. And I’m very remorseful. I took a guilty plea. But there are two sides to every story. And the movie didn’t really portray what went down with the girls and I’m very disappointed. They would have had such a better storyline if they really just focused on the truth.”
"I felt like the movie defamed my character and defamed me as a mother. I walked out of the movie theater because I was very upset."
“I thought Cardi B should have played me from the beginning,” continued Barbash. “She was in the strip club business so she knows, she gets it… She played a good 10 minutes. She would have portrayed me better because she lived that life… Again, I’m not going against Jennifer’s acting skills because she acted great in the film. She looked beautiful, but it’s not reality. I understand the story had to be fabricated for Hollywood, but it was very fabricated to the point where I just walked out of the movie.”
Variety reported Barbash’s attorney Bruno Gioffre sent STX, the production company behind “Hustlers,” a letter earlier this month demanding it works out a deal to compensate his client within 10 days or face a lawsuit. In response, the outlet reported STX defended its rights to make movies about actual events.
“We will defend our right to tell factually based stories based on the public record and look forward to resolving this matter before a judge,” said an STX spokesperson.
STX did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Barbash wouldn’t further elaborate on the matter.
But one thing Barbash did approve in “Hustlers” was Lopez’s pole dancing.
“That was the whole film,” Barbash chuckled. “As soon as she came out in that outfit, she looked gorgeous. She did amazing on the pole. I don’t even know how to do stuff like that. So I commend her.”
Still, Barbash stressed the strip club scene “Hustlers” depicted was completely different from the world she knew.
“The ones I worked at, and I’m going back years and years, they didn’t even have a stripper pole,” she explained. “You had to wear long gowns. You had to cover up your tattoos… When I went to the Hustler club, there was a pole there, but it wasn’t like the clubs of today, the clubs Cardi B knew where the girls did pole tricks. And we weren’t dancing for dollars — we were dancing for thousands… It was a totally different time.”
Barbash said that despite the film’s success, she’s still going to move forward with her plans to release a series based on her life. And she insisted her take will depict the truth.
“Nobody really knows why we pursue a job like this,” said Barbash. “I was a single mom. I had no choice but to do what I had to do to survive. In my series, it’s going to be based on my life story. It’s not only going to show the glamorization. It will show the girls making lots of money, but it’s also going to show all the downfalls of the clubs and how these girls are taken advantage of. Some girls get caught up on drugs because of the money they’re making.”
“You cannot let the money make you,” continued Barbash. “You can’t get caught up with the wrong people. You can’t let the clubs rule you because that’s what happens. That’s where it all fell apart for me.”
Fox News' Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report.