‘Inventing Anna’ subject sues Netflix over 'disloyal, dishonest' portrayal

Rachel Williams is pursuing legal action for 'defamation' against the streaming platform

Entertainment Desk August 30, 2022

Rachel Williams, who came to be known for her affiliation with con artist Anna Sorokin, also known as Anna Delvey, filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix on Monday over the nature of her depiction in the docu-drama Inventing Anna, reports Entertainment Weekly.

In the series, Williams, portrayed by actor Katie Lowes, is shown as willingly accepting expensive gifts and trips from Sorokin, ultimately betraying her to the New York City authorities after Sorokin convinces her to put major charges on her credit cards but fails to reimburse her. However, Williams has come forward to claim that her friendship with Sorokin was depicted in a "disloyal, dishonest" manner.

In the lawsuit filed in Delaware federal court, it is claimed that "Netflix made a deliberate decision for dramatic purposes to show Williams doing or saying things in the series which portray her as a greedy, snobbish, disloyal, dishonest, cowardly, manipulative, and opportunistic person." The lawsuit also alleges that nearly everything about William's character on the show was falsified to paint her negatively — especially since her character uses a real person's first and last name, along with personal information such as her employment and school history.

Williams also calls out some of the show's alleged inaccuracies in the lawsuit. She says she either paid for drinks when out with Sorokin or split the bill with her, while the show made it look like Sorokin paid for everything. In response to a scene that shows Williams abandoning Sorokin in Morocco after her credit card gets declined, Williams claims she told Sorokin beforehand that she'd be leaving early for work.

"Williams did not stop being friends with Sorokin because Sorokin was having problems in Morocco, but rather because she subsequently discovered on her return to New York that Sorokin was a liar and a con artist whose statements and promises had induced Williams to incur liabilities of around $62,000 on Sorokin's behalf were false, and who only reimbursed her $5,000 despite numerous promises to reimburse her $70,000 to account for the full debt and any late fees incurred," the lawsuit states.

Inventing Anna, which consisted of nine episodes and was released in February of this year, begins with a disclaimer that says, "This story is completely true. Except for the parts that are totally made up." In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, series creator and producer Shonda Rhimes said, "We weren't telling a biopic, because that's an important distinction to make. And there were so many elements of that show that were facts … I'm not even sure I could tell anybody because they came from sort of secret notes somewhere. But there was also stuff that we invented because it needed to be invented to make the story really sing and be what it should be."

Based on an article in the New York magazine published in 2018, the drama miniseries shocked viewers globally as it recounts the rise and inevitable downfall of con artist Sorokin, who pretended to be a wealthy German heiress to access cash, goods, and services from the wealthiest ranks of the New York art and social scenes from 2013 to 2017. Willians, a former Vanity Fair photo editor and producer, is one such individual who was scammed out of thousands of dollars by Sorokin under the guise of a budding friendship.

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