The most popular show on Netflix right now depicts one of the most dramatic friendship breakups of all time. Based on the infamous "SoHo grifter" Anna Delvey, née Sorokin, Inventing Anna follows the scammer's escapades through New York, after which she was found guilty of defrauding banks, restaurants, and hotels (and stealing a private jet). The show also shows Delvey's friendship with Rachel, a former magazine editor whom Delvey stuck with an over $60,000 bill for a Morocco vacation.
The real-life Rachel, full name Rachel DeLoache Williams, was once one of Delvey's closest friends. After their fallout, she testified against the grifter in her trial and later wrote a book about her experience. Though that's where her story ends in Inventing Anna, the real-life Rachel continues to speak out against Delvey—and has thoughts about Netflix's dramatization of events.
Rachel wrote a book about her experience.
In real life, Williams was working as a photo editor for Vanity Fair when she met Delvey through mutual friends. As in the show, she wrote an essay about her experience with Delvey, and sued her former friend for $62,000 after assisting in a sting operation for Delvey's arrest. Delvey was found not guilty for the charge in real life, and Williams was left with the debt, though the writer did tell ABC News that her credit card company forgave most of the debt.
Williams also wrote a book about her experience with Delvey and the grifter's trial, called My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress. The memoir was re-released in paperback this week, with a new afterword also published in Time.
In a Q&A on her website, Williams confirmed that she was not involved with the Netflix show. She previously sold her own story rights to HBO and Lena Dunham, but she says on the website that the project is not currently in development.
She now works as a freelance photographer.
Tennessee native Williams left Vanity Fair after selling her book My Friend Anna in 2019. According to her website, she works as a freelance writer, photographer, producer, and creative consultant. She also expresses her passion for photography and travel on her Instagram.
She says Anna is being "rewarded for her crimes."
Ahead of Inventing Anna's release, Williams trashed the show in an AirMail essay, criticizing Netflix for giving Delvey even more notoriety and attention.
"Take it from someone who knows: This is the art of the con, a shell game that proffers irresistible thrills for low stakes, while a sleight of hand carries out the high-roller business unseen. Netflix isn’t just putting out a fictional story. It’s effectively running a con woman’s P.R.—and putting money in her pocket," she wrote.
She also speculated about the media attention and money Delvey has received from Netflix (though selling the rights to her story) and other sources in her Time essay.
"If your crimes are splashy enough, a media company could snatch up the rights to your story pre-trial so that you’re able to afford the attorney of your choice, one skilled enough to minimize your penalty. You could be paid so much money that even after your funds are frozen and victims are repaid, you have cash left over. And, not only that, but if fame is what you’re after, you’ll have built yourself a 'brand,' created a platform, and found an audience to leverage for future opportunities," Williams wrote.
She also admitted that she gave Delvey "enormous power and influence over me—power and influence I then spent years working to reclaim," before telling her audience to be careful of giving Delvey more of their attention.
Speaking to Vanity Fair in the aftermath of the show's release, Williams said: "I was caught off guard when Netflix announced its description of the character Rachel." (Netflix calls Rachel "a natural-born follower whose blind worship of Anna almost destroys her job, her credit, and her life...The woman she becomes because of Anna may be Anna’s greatest creation.") She said "To say a woman is someone else’s creation is counter to a feminist narrative. I looked at it and I was like, Really? That’s where you’re going to go with this?"
Williams added of Katie Lowes, who plays her on the show: "Lowes’s concern for accuracy, when it comes to portraying me as I am, seems limited to the spelling of my full name."
Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.
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