Vivian’s character in Inventing Anna is based on a real journalist, Jessica Pressler, who wrote an investigative article about Anna’s story.
The world of Invent Anna has a large cast of characters based on real people, including Vivian Kent, the reporter who is determined to tell Anna Delvey’s story. Vivian, played by actress Anna Chlumsky (best known for her role as Amy in Veep and Veda in My daughter), is based on a real journalist, Jessica Pressler. Pressler wrote an article on Delvey (via The cup), “Maybe she had so much money she lost track of it,” which served as the basis for the Netflix drama. Although Inventing Anna shows a fictional account of Jessica meeting Anna to write her article, there are still elements of Jessica’s real story to be explained.
In Invent Annathe character of Vivian written for fiction manhattan magazine. At the start of the show, Vivian is in a career slump after an article she wrote about a teenage millionaire Manhattan scholar turned out to be false because the topic made up the story. With her journalistic reputation tarnished, Vivian is fighting with her editors to allow her to write about Delvey instead of #MeToo stories on Wall Street. Invent Anna follows Vivian as she investigates Anna while she is also heavily pregnant.
The actual inspiration behind Vivian Kent’s character, Jessica Pressler hails from Massachusetts and earned her BA in English from Temple University. She wrote for philadelphia cream magazines and Philadelphia Weekly and freelance for other magazines before moving to New York and writing for new York magazine, where she was a contributing editor for more than a decade. Pressler is also known for writing the true story article that inspired the 2019 film. Hustlers titled “The Hustlers At Scores” (via The cup). Pressler is currently special envoy for vanity lounge.
Invent Anna isn’t the first time a character based on Pressler has been portrayed on screen. In Hustlers, the character of Elizabeth, an investigative journalist, was played by Julia Stiles. Various scenes in Hustlers show Elizabeth interviewing Destiny (Constance Wu), trying to find out about the women involved in the Moves nightclub scam. Pressler said (via an interview with Katie Couric) that she had minimal involvement in the film, but gave director Lorene Scafaria some notes. She also mentions that Julia Stiles visited her to ask about her reporting process and incorporated some of her mannerisms into Elizabeth’s character.
Pressler was more involved behind the scenes of Invent Anna. She is credited as a producer and gave notes to the writing team. Invent Anna isn’t always accurate, but Pressler noted (via Shondaland) that certain events actually happened, such as the fact that she had to fight to get her story idea approved. However, the details are understandably dramatized, as is typical for a TV show that needs to elevate excitement and drama to maintain interest. In the Shondaland interview, Pressler also says that Vivian’s character is more confrontational than she was in real life, but she thinks “confrontational attitude is just for television.”
Although Pressler spoke to designer Shonda Rhimes and Invent Annathe writing team of, she notes (via Vulture) that she was not involved in the casting of Vivian and Anna. However, she said that Anna Chlumsky and Julia Garner, who plays Anna Delvy in Invent Annaare “magnificent” and approved their casting in Invent Anna, as well as Anders Holm as Vivian’s husband. Anna Chlumsky revealed (via Newsweek) that she studied Pressler’s written work very closely in order to help herself understand the character she was playing.
It must be somewhat odd to see a character based on her own likeness in a show. Although Pressler never imagined she would be a major character in Invent Anna, she seems to take everything head on, according to the interviews. Pressler was allowed to offer his opinion to make Vivian a more accurate portrayal of the journalist, and the show was able to take his notes while applying creative license for the sake of entertainment. Yes Invent Anna viewers are intrigued by Vivian, they may also find the character’s actual inspiration equally interesting.
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