Less than a week after Lizzo dropped her album Cuz I Love You, she was in the headlines again (did she ever even leave?) for being the latest addition to the money-hustling stripper squad film Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. The film also features Cardi B, Madeline Brewer, Trace Lysette, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Mercedes Ruehl, Julia Stiles, and Mette Towley, a casting that rivals if not surpasses that of Ocean’s 8. Vanity Fair has dubbed the dynamic Hustlers cast a “Time Capsule of Our Era” while Paper Magazine has described the lineup as “Generation Defining.” According to Oprah Magazine, there will be a fair amount of Juicy Couture branded outfits and velour tracksuits.
Hustlers began filming last month in New York City. The screenplay itself is art imitating life imitating art: the story was based on a feature written by journalist Jessica Pressler, “The Hustlers at Scores,” published in New York Magazine in 2015. Pressler told the story of an enterprising crew of strippers who, inspired by the HBO documentary series G String Divas, drugged and robbed the wealthiest, scummiest patrons of Manhattan’s Scores. (Scores, if you haven’t figured it out, is a strip club.)
The film is directed by Lorene Scafaria and is being produced by Gloria Sanchez Productions, a female-centric production company; despite the name, Gloria Sanchez Productions is not named after a real person and is not led by a Latina. However, J. Lo is on board as one of Hustler’s producers, alongside Will Ferrell and Andy McKay.
“The film is an empathetic look at women and men, our gender roles, what we’re valued for, what we’ve been told is our value in every movie, TV show, every corner of culture,” director Scafaria told the Hollywood Reporter last year. “Men have been told they’re worth the size of their bank accounts. Women have been told they’re worth the symmetry of their faces, their bodies, their beauty, and that’s what this film is based on. The rules of the club are the rules of the world.” Scafaria expressed unbridled enthusiasm over J. Lo’s presence in the film. “There is no other actor who could embody this raw and dynamic character with such complexity, humanity and intelligence. It’s always been her. She’s f*cking Jennifer Lopez.”
At least two of the supporting cast members have actually worked as strippers, including Cardi who of course also has the added real-life experience of drugging and robbing men who were hoping to commission her for sex work. Trace Lysette, a transgender actress, worked as a stripper as well. In fact, she had once been employed at Scores, the strip club that inspired the film in the first place; Lysette ended up getting cast for Hustlers by reaching out to Scafaria via social media. “Sometimes things are just too personal to leave up to conventional methods [of casting], so I sent a tweet out to the universe to whoever would listen,” she told GLAAD this week. “I offered my support in whatever way to Lorene Scafaria and the Twitterverse. I explained that I worked [at Scores] (among other clubs) for 8+ yrs and I was there during the years the film was focusing on.”
Hustlers hits theaters September 13th.