The True Story of the Rachel Williams and Anna Delvey Friendship in Inventing Anna

The True Story of the Rachel Williams and Anna Delvey Friendship in Inventing Anna

Rachel Williams, the real-life ex-friend of Anna Delvey/Sorokin, who appears in Netflix’s Inventing Anna as “Rachel” and who was, in fact, swindled for $62,000 by Sorokin on 2017 trip to Marrakech, recently lambasted the Netflix series.

“I think promoting this whole narrative and celebrating a sociopathic, narcissistic, proven criminal is wrong,” Williams told Vanity Fair in a recent interview. “Having had a front-row seat to [the Anna circus] for far too long, I’ve studied the way a con works more than anybody needs to. You watch the spectacle, but you’re not paying attention to what’s being marketed.”

Williams criticized the series for portraying Sorokin heroically—as a savvy and inspiring hustler, and not as a convicted felon. (Sorokin is currently in ICE detention, facing deportation.)

Williams published her own account of the story, which ran in Vanity Fair in 2018, just a month before Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine story, the source material for Inventing Anna. Netflix reportedly paid Sorokin $320,000 for her life rights in order to produce the story alongside Pressler, a payment that apparently irked Williams, despite the fact that most of the money was spent on restitution, fines, and attorney fees; Sorokin reportedly pocketed $22,000.

By comparison, Williams too has profited off the ordeal, selling book rights to Simon & Schuster for a reported $300,000. Williams was also reportedly paid $35,000 by HBO for option rights. (That project is no longer in development and Williams was given back the option rights. She told Vanity Fair Netflix had reached out for option rights, but Williams said “no” because HBO had them at the time.)

Still, for Williams, Netflix’s depiction of Sorokin wasn’t the only egregious narrative choice. Williams said that series’ preface—that the events of the story are true, “except for all the parts that aren’t”—gives the series license to tell half-truths, which Williams says are more dangerous than a lie. Williams’ own depiction in the series, outlined as “a natural-born follower whose blind worship of Anna almost destroys her job, her credit, and her life,” unsettled her.

where is rachel williams from 'inventing anna' now

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“I think there is a false narrative with regard to me not having been a strong person before this entire thing,” she told Vanity Fair.

On the question of her own book and her own reasons for telling the story, Williams said it was to help her understand what had happened.

“As I’ve said one too many times, this is the hardest thing I’ve gone through—the betrayal as much as the money. Having been betrayed by someone I trusted—and to have been betrayed in a huge way. Her entire identity had been a complete sham. That really sends you into a ricochet of memories, looking back trying to look for all the signs you missed. That’s why I wrote a book—I was drowning in rumination and trying to process what had happened.”

In the end, Williams says, the Netflix writers manipulated the real events to fit their own story, one of Sorokin as a product of our attention culture and materialist desires. The result, she says, is that the wrong conclusions will be made about the story’s particular characters, including herself.

In response to all these comments, Sorokin herself chimed in.

In a long Instagram post, quoted here by The Tab, Sorokin accused Williams of courting media attention:

“I’ve been silent about this for years. However over the past two weeks watching Rachel stubbornly refuse to move from her contrived trauma, ever brazen and unchecked, while going on every show that will have her, I thought now–I have to. And if I have to, I will. During her numerous public cries for attention claiming I ‘ruined’ her life, relentless Rachel DeLoache Williams conveniently forgets to mention the curious period of time during the summer of ’18 when herself along with her newly acquired literary agent were repeatedly harassing my lawyer Todd (both via email and phone) to get me to write a book TOGETHER with Rachel. And the best part is–this time around I got all the receipts.”

Sorokin goes on to call Williams a “Karen.”

Where Is Rachel DeLoache Williams Now?

Williams was working for Vanity Fair during the time she spent with Sorokin. She has since left that position. According to her Instagram, she now works as a writer, photographer, and creative consultant.

Joshua St Clair is an editorial assistant at Men’s Health Magazine. 

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