‘Inventing Anna’: The Cast Vs. Their Real-Life Counterparts
Get to know the actual people behind the true story of this New York con woman
Anna Sorokin, better known as Anna Delvey, was convicted on multiple accounts in 2019 after swindling her way into a life of luxury and defrauding Manhattan’s elite out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by posing as a wealthy German heiress. Netflix’s newest and much-anticipated miniseries, Inventing Anna, by Shonda Rhimes, and based on Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine exposé titled, “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People,” dramatises the fraudulent socialite.
While a lot of details are exaggerated, amalgamated, or ‘totally made up’, the Netflix adaption features many key acquaintances from Sorokin’s story. Here’s a look at the characters and how they compare to their real-life counterparts.
As part of her preparation to play the socialite grifter, Julia Garner travelled to Albion Correctional Facility in Buffalo, New York, where Anna was being held. Speaking to Town & Country, Garner said, “She’s actually really sweet. She was extremely charming. She’s very gentle. But then her voice gets less soft-spoken when she wants something.”
Delvey was released from prison on good behaviour early last year before she was taken back into custody by ICE for overstaying her visa. She told Insider, “It doesn’t look like I’ll be watching Inventing Anna anytime soon. Even if I were to pull some strings and make it happen, nothing about seeing a fictionalized version of myself in this criminal-insane-asylum setting sounds appealing to me.”
The drama is based on the perspective of Vivian Kent, a journalist who works for Manhattan Magazine, and who is desperate to crack Anna’s story in hopes to unfold Sorokin’s complex identity while salvaging her own career. Anna Chlumsky steps into the role of this character inspired by Jessica Pressler, who is a producer on Inventing Anna.
As depicted on the show, Pressler was pregnant when she was investigating Anna. “She really was, like, nine months pregnant and gave birth seconds after writing the article, which I thought was amazing,” creator Shonda Rhimes told the Hollywood Reporter.
Inventing Anna marks Pressler’s second New York Magazine article to receive an on-screen adaption after her 2015 story called “The Hustlers at Scores” was nominated for a National Magazine Award, and later provided basis for 2019’s feature film called Hustlers starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu.
Played by Bold Type‘s Alexis Floyd, Neff Davis is an aspiring filmmaker who met Anna while working as a concierge at 11 Howard’s luxury hotel. She is based on Neffatari Davis, who remains close friends with the Soho grifter to this day. Davis told Bustle, “I think I know [Anna’s] heart. I’ll never know her mind, but her tenderness and comedic ways are something the world may never see.”
Todd in Inventing Anna is based on a NYC criminal attorney who has his own criminal defense firm, The Spodek Law Group. Spodek, who is portrayed by Succession‘s Arian Moayed was Anna Delvey’s defence lawyer. “Anna’s my girl,” Spodek said to Cosmopolitan. “I signed up to represent Anna, and that means having her back through and through.”
“She’s no more of a fraud than Frank Sinatra,” said the faux heiress’s lawyer while representing Sorokin during her trial in 2019. “You have to put yourself in her shoes,” he told the Manhattan jurors. “The shoes of a 25-year-old German national who managed to infiltrate a world that very few of us ever see.”
Kacy Duke (aka ‘the trainer’), played by Orange Is The New Black ‘s Laverne Cox, was one of the victim caught in the scammer’s web. According to the celebrity personal trainer’s website, her client list that reads like “red carpet Who’s Who” consists of many of entertainment world’s most high profile names, including Denzel Washington, Dakota Johnson, Bebe Rexha, and Gwen Stefani to name a few.
Sorokin found Duke online and hired her for personal workout sessions. Described as a “svelte, ageless Oprah-esque figure” in Pressler’s article, she acted as both a trainer and life coach to Anna. Duke accompanied Anna and company on the infamous and lavish trip to Marrakech, Morocco as well.
Williams, an ex-Vanity Fair picture editor who befriends Anna is played by Scandal’s Katie Lowes. The journalist wrote in detail about her trip to Morocco and how her bond with the pseudo-heiress nearly destroyed her life, credit, and career in a 2018 article for Vanity Fair titled ‘My Bright-Lights Misadventure With A Magician Of Manhattan‘ and in a 2019 book titled My Friend Anna.
As reflected in the series, Williams was charged $62,000 for the Marrakech vacation under the false pretence of getting reimbursed by Sorokin. She later helped the authorities track Anna down.
Subscribe to our mailing list below and never miss latest posts or exclusive content.