On June 11, 2014, four women and one man were indicted for allegedly drugging men and charging thousands of dollars on their credit cards at New York City clubs. Five years later, one of those women — Roselyn “Rosie” Keo, considered one of the scheme’s two ringleaders — posed for photographers at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Keo, who was sentenced to five years probation in 2016, was in Toronto to watch her own story play out onscreen in Hustlers, a new movie from writer-director Lorene Scafaria, which premiered at the festival on Sept. 7 and hits theaters nationwide Sept. 13.
Hustlers is based on Jessica Pressler’s December 2015 New York magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores,” for which the journalist interviewed both Keo and the scheme’s other leader, Samantha Foxx (née Barbash; this story will refer to her as Barbash since that is the name she went by at the time and the name listed in court documents). The women recounted a deep friendship which turned to sisterhood which then turned dark.
When Scafaria read Pressler’s article, the filmmaker tells TIME, she “found it to be a fascinating friendship story at its core.” She says she knew that if she were to adapt this story for the screen, it had to come from Pressler’s article, rather than court documents and tabloids. This way, a character based on Pressler could serve as a stand-in for the viewer, allowing the audience to empathize with the characters. “I thought that Jessica and Rosie’s relationship was incredibly interesting — the relationship between a storyteller and their subject,” Scafaria says.
Though some details of what the Special Narcotics Prosecutor called a “repugnant scheme” are altered for the film, Scafaria set out to be faithful to the story Pressler wrote, even cutting out the movie’s sound at one point when a recorder being used by the movie’s reporter (who is based on Pressler and played by Julia Stiles) is flipped off. She changed the names of the leading women: Roselyn Keo becomes Destiny, played by Constance Wu; Jennifer Lopez’s character, Ramona, is inspired by Barbash; and their business partners, Karina Pascucci and Marsi Rosen, are loosely translated into Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) and Mercedes (Keke Palmer). Cardi B, Lizzo and a male R&B star (whose identity is best left to viewers to learn upon watching the film) make appearances in the …
Source:: Time – Entertainment