"Inventing Anna": Rachel Williams suing Netflix for how she was portrayed in show about fake heiress Anna Sorokin
Netflix has been hit with a defamation lawsuit by Rachel DeLoache Williams, who is unhappy with how she was portrayed in the scripted series "Inventing Anna." The show is based on convicted fraudster Anna Sorokin, aka Anna Delvey, who befriended Williams in real life.
Williams wrote about her relationship with Sorokin, which began in 2016, in a popular essay for Vanity Fair and a subsequent book called "My Friend Anna." Sorokin scammed several friends, as well as banks and hotels by saying she was an heiress named Anna Delvey.
When they met, Williams was a 28-year-old editor for Vanity Fair and Sorokin was portraying herself as 25-year-old German heiress Anna Delvey, who had a trust fund — which was a lie.
After deceiving New York elites between 2016 and 2017, Sorokin was found guilty of four counts of theft of services, three counts of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny, and was jailed in 2019.
The con artist, the people she scammed and her then-friends, including Williams, were portrayed in the 2022 Netflix show "Inventing Anna."
In the suit, Williams claims 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," among other things.
Williams claims Netflix portrayed her as "sponging off Sorokin by accepting gifts of expensive clothes, jewelry and accessories" and allowing Sorokin to pay for things. She also says Netflix portrayed her as abandoning Sorokin in Morocco on a lavish trip.
Williams wrote about their 2017 trip to Morocco in her essay, claiming Sorokin left her with a $62,000 bill. However, during her trial, jurors acquitted Sorokin of two counts, including the allegation that she promised Williams an all-expenses paid trip to Morocco and then stuck her with the bill.
In the suit, Williams claims the Netflix show also made it seem like she lied to friends by concealing that she had helped the police arrest Sorokin.
Williams claims many media outlets have "commented on Netflix's hatchet job," and the suit lists several articles that favor Williams.
"As a result of Netflix's false portrayal of her as a vile and contemptible person, Williams was subjected to a torrent of online abuse, negative in-person interactions, and pejorative characterizations in podcasts, etc. that were based on the Series, which establish that Netflix's actions exposed her to public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace, or induced an evil opinion of her," the suit reads.
Williams was portrayed by actor Katie Lowes, while Anna was portrayed by Julia Garner. The show, produced by Shonda Rhimes, portrays several real-life people, but some are given fictitious names, "such as Sorokin's business lawyer, her boyfriend, and the wealthy socialite and her fashion designer acolyte," according to the suit.
The show should have given Williams' character a fictitious name, "so that no one would believe that the character was a portrayal 'of and concerning' the real Rachel Williams," the suit reads.
The suit alleges Netflix further blurred the lines between fact and fiction by showing photographs of Lowes under the fake Instagram account "realrachelwilliams" and later showing a photo of Williams under the same fake account.
The show, which was watched for nearly 6.6 billion minutes over the first 17 days of its release, according to the suit, made several defamatory statements, the suit claims. The scenes in which Williams is allegedly defamed are listed in the suit.
Williams is now demanding a jury trial. She is hoping to receive punitive damages, the cost of the suit and further monetary relief as the Court deems just and proper as well as Netflix's removal of the allegedly defamatory statements from the series.
CBS News has reached out to Williams' attorneys and Netflix and is awaiting response.
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