“If you tell me the joy of having a daughter is supposed to make up for the loss of my career, the loss of the thing that lights up my brain, I swear to god I will smother you in your sleep” –Vivian Kent, Inventing Anna
Anna Delvey has become the talk of the town, once again. The last time she made headlines was when the New York Magazine article blew up. Netflix’s Inventing Anna tells the wild con saga of fake heiress Anna Delvey, but the viewers were intrigued by that story because it was told by Vivan Kent. She introduced us to the mystery that is Anna Delvey Sorokin. Created by Shonda Rhimes, Inventing Anna is based on the real-life 2018 New York magazine’s The Cut article written by Jessica Pressler. In the show, Pressler is played by Anna Chlumsky, and Anna is played by Julia Garner.
Within a month of Pressler’s The Cut article, TV Queen Shonda Rhimes reached out to Pressler. Due to her being in labor, she wasn’t able to reply to Shonda’s mail in a timely manner, for which she apologized later. But when she read the producer’s response to her apology, she was “instantly smitten,”
“Don’t EVER apologize for the work of being a woman and a mother. If you were a man, people would be putting you on the cover of Time magazine for taking care of kids and doing ANY work at all at the same time.” her response reads.
The rest is what we are witnessing right now. Shondaland’s Inventing Anna is currently at the top of Netflix’s most-viewed chart.
So meet Jessica Pressler, the real-life journalist who was the inspiration behind Vivian Kent.
Jessica Pressler: Who is she?
Jessica Pressler is a staff writer at New York Magazine. She is a regular contributor to GQ and Elle and the former editor of the magazine’s news blog, Daily Intelligencer. Her 2015 article The Hustlers at Scores, which was also nominated for National Magazine Award, was adapted into the 2019 movie Hustlers in which her character was played by actor Julia Stiles with a main cast featuring Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Lili Reinhart among others. Her work has appeared in the Columbia Journalism School’s Best Business Writing anthologies in 2012, 2013, and 2015. Pressler came to New York from Philadelphia, where she was a staff writer for Philadelphia magazine and the Philadelphia Weekly and graduated from Temple University with a B.A. in English. She is originally from Marblehead, Massachusetts, and currently resides in Queens.
Did Jessica Pressler really write an article on Anna Delvey?
Yes, she sure did. In the show, Vivian works for a fictional Manhattan Magazine, but in real life Pressler wrote for New York Magazine’s The Cut, “Maybe She Had So Much Money She Just Lost Track Of It,” that served as a basis for the Netflix original.
Is everything about Vivian Kent in the show true then?
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Not really. As the Netflix disclaimer that comes before every episode of the show says, “This whole story is completely true. Except for the parts that are completely made up.” But as Pressler confirmed to Vulture, Anna Chlumsky’s portrayal of Pressler has an “emotional truth” to it. “Is Anna making decisions in real life because she is now very famous, and did I do that? I think they did pull that out” she said. In the final moments, we see an emotional Vivian, so conflicted about her opinions about Delvey.
Pressler, who wrote the entire article and also produced a series about Anna Delvey, still has no opinion about the person Anna is. “I have this experience, which I think a lot of people have when watching the show, where you go back and forth between “This person is terrible, evil, scary” and then “This is just like a nice girl; she’s normal.” It’s been back and forth like that the entire time I’ve known her, “she says.
But she still hasn’t landed on whether she’s “brilliant, conniving, or if she just kind of happens to be in the right place at the right time.”
What parts of the character Vivian Kent were true?
“Vivian is like an all-caps angry email of me, but there are things that are very real mixed into it,” Pressler jokes about her portrayal in Inventing Anna. First things first, Pressler was actually super pregnant at the time, but she did not happen to have a murder wall in the baby room instead she had her research in a spreadsheet, which is not really intriguing to show on TV. It’s a television show, meaning everything is going to be somewhat fictionalized, and Pressler was totally aware of that.
In an interview with Shondaland, Pressler shed some light on the real vs. reel questions, “The timelines are different, and the way that it unfolds is different. It’s one of those things that parts of it are very real, and then there are bits that are totally made up. So, in many of the interviews that happen, the characters in the show are saying things that people absolutely said to me, but the situation is different, and the way that it’s set up in the show is different. Vivian is still reporting the magazine article in the show, but I was done with the magazine article when I did a lot of the interviews that are in the show. After the magazine article came out, I’d done a lot of interviews for the book I’m writing”.