‘Inventing Anna’: Journalist Jessica Pressler Revealed Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Absolutely Iconic Reply’ to an Apology Email

When journalist Jessica Pressler, who inspired Inventing Anna on Netflix, did not immediately reply to Shonda Rhimes, she apologized. The reporter felt an apology was warranted when she didn’t get back to a famous Hollywood producer promptly. However, the Shondaland creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal nearly scolded Pressler for offering an apology for giving birth to her child. Find out more about the interaction between Pressler and Rhimes before there was any talk of Julia Garner becoming Anna Delvey.

Anna Chlumsky sits with her pen and paper as Vivian Kent in 'Inventing Anna'
‘Inventing Anna’: Anna Chlumsky as Vivian Kent | David Giesbrecht/Netflix

‘Inventing Anna’ is based on Journalist Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine article

Jessica Pressler published the article “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People” in May 2018. The story is intriguing from the beginning. A hotel concierge at the 11 Hotel, Neffatari Davis, who goes by “Neff,” describes her experiences with Anna Delvey. The hotel became accustomed to Delvey dropping a crisp $100 bill whenever she spoke to one of them. It got to the point that the staff fought over who brought her packages to her door. The article became the basis for the nine-episode Netflix drama Inventing Anna. Jessica Pressler became Vivian Kent (portrayed by Anna Chlumsky).

RELATED: ‘Inventing Anna’: Chase Sikorski Is Based on a Real Person From Anna Delvey’s Life

“I was running on a treadmill when I read the article in New York Magazine about Anna Delvey, and I remember literally jumping off of the treadmill and calling my office,” Rhimes told Netflix. “I really felt like I hadn’t felt that excitement of a story that I wanted to tell and knew exactly how I wanted to tell it in a really long time.”

Rhimes contacted the reporter but didn’t get an immediate response.

RELATED: ‘Inventing Anna’: Everything We Know About Alan Reed (Inspired by Andy Lance) from Anna Delvey’s Life

‘Inventing Anna’ journalist Jessica Pressler was pregnant when she wrote the article

Like in Inventing Anna, the real-life journalist who Vivian Kent is modeled after was pregnant while investigating New York City’s grifter story. Pressler published the article in May 2018, and then she went to the hospital soon after to have her baby. Rhimes stumbled upon the story rather quickly and contacted Pressler within a month of its publication.

“It was about a month or so later,” Pressler recalled to Vulture. “I remember they reached out pretty soon after I had gotten home from the hospital, or maybe even while I was still in the hospital, in June 2018, and I said something like, ‘I’m sorry, I’m behind on emails, I got caught up having a baby.'”

RELATED: ‘Inventing Anna’: Anna Sorokin Tells Viewers the ‘Newly Acquired Habit’ They ‘Won’t See in the Netflix Show’

Shonda Rhimes had an ‘absolutely iconic reply’ to Jessica Pressler

Journalist Jessica Pressler was “instantly smitten” with Rhimes when she read the producer’s response to her apology.

“Shonda sent me this absolutely iconic reply, which I still have on my wall,” Pressler continued. [It] includes the lines, ‘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.’ And I was instantly smitten.”

The rest is history. On June 8, 2018, Shondaland and Netflix bought the rights to the Anna Delvey story. The nine-episode series dropped to Netflix on Feb. 11, 2022, and was an immediate binge-watch for many.

RELATED: ‘Inventing Anna’: Where Is Anna Sorokin (AKA Delvey) Today?