Kacy Duke (Laverne Cox), Rachel Williams (Katie Lowes), Anna Delvey (Julia Garner), and Neff (Alexis Floyd) stand in front of Anna's dream building — 281 Park.

How the Inventing Anna Cast Delivered the Drama

The cast of the Emmy-nominated Shondaland show reflect on playing real people.

17 August 20224 min read

From her stunning rotation of designer sunglasses to her iconic globetrotting, Anna Delvey’s flair for scamming the finer things in life has been well-documented. In Inventing Anna — the Shonda Rhimes and Shondaland limited series inspired by journalist Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine story, “How an Aspiring ‘It’ Girl Tricked New York’s Party People — and Its Banks”— Queue cover star Julia Garner nails the brief as the faux German heiress with grand ambitions, a sketchy past, and a dubious accent

The dramatic real estate escapades and fine-dining capers in the series were made all the richer by the cast of characters who filled in Delvey’s sometimes sordid world. Anna Chlumsky plays Vivian Kent, the journalist who breaks the story and is also somewhat broken in the process. Laverne Cox is Kacy Duke, the celebrity wellness coach and resident moral compass. Alexis Floyd is Neff, a loyal confidante and sometimes personal assistant to Delvey. Arian Moayed is Todd, Delvey’s laser-focused attorney with the impossible task of proving her innocence. And Katie Lowes is Rachel, a magazine photo editor who gets embroiled in Delvey’s deception and ends up footing the bill. This stellar ensemble helped snag Emmy nomination for Outstanding Casting, for the casting team: Linda Lowy (C.S.A.), Jamie Castro (C.S.A.), Allison Estrin (C.S.A.), Henry Russell Bergstein (C.S.A.), Juliette Ménager, Simone Bär, and Alexandra Montag. 

In a roundtable discussion, the cast dished on how they landed their parts and shared what it was like to embody characters inspired by those infamous headlines.

Anna Delvey (Julia Garner) wears dark-rimmed glasses and a beige shirt.

Anna Delvey (Julia Garner)


“I first heard about the article the week that it came out because it was one of those things — living in New York — it was just trending, in a way. I was actually on my engagement trip. I woke up and [my husband] was like, ‘I read the craziest article.’ I read [it] and I was like, ‘Whoa, this is wild.’ He’s like, ‘Do you think they’re going to make a movie about this?’ I said, ‘Oh yeah. They’re probably trying to option it now. They’re probably fighting for it right now.’ And he’s like, ‘Do you ever think you could play this girl?’ And I said, ‘Well, I could play her, but I would never get cast. No one would ever cast me for this role because I look nothing like her and nobody would be able to see me playing this person.’ So, two months later I got an email.”

Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky) sits in a red booth surrounded by binders.

Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky)


“I had this bee in my bonnet that I wanted to play a journalist. I always envied their ability to connect their curiosity to how they’re relating to the person in front of them. And this came along. Actually, I thought I was going to a general meeting with Shonda and Betsy [Beers]. Then they sent me the script right before this meeting. So I didn’t even get to finish [reading] it yet, but I was already completely hooked, and I loved the way that they teased out the journalist’s role. So often in a show or film, the journalist serves as the storytelling device, but we really never get to see the life of that person. I was just so refreshed and excited and really compelled by exploring her mind, and her motivations, and how following an intimate, personal story like this, the way that one does [while writing] a profile, changes you. It has to change you. Relationships are relationships, whether or not it’s for work. I was compelled by every nook and cranny that Shonda was exploring with Vivian’s character.”

Rachel Williams (Katie Lowes) wears a plaid blazer and a mustard beret.

Rachel Williams (Katie Lowes)


“I have to say it’s been a great joy getting to know Kacy Duke, getting to inhabit her. Leading up to the premiere of the show, I was utterly panicked and had such anxiety because she is a real person and she’s an icon in the fitness industry. I was so anxious that people would think I sucked, and that she would hate it. So I was at the Grammys doing the red carpet check-in and Lenny Kravitz walks by, and he looks back and he sees me and says, ‘You did a great job playing my friend of 30 years, Kacy Duke.’ And I was just like, ‘Um, thank you.’ And I’m still kind of, I can’t believe it

People who know her have said things like that. So, it’s just a relief because I have such love for her and she’s such an incredible woman. When I got the offer, I read the article and then I went and Googled Kacy. I found a bunch of videos and watched everything and just became really intrigued by her, and her spirituality, and her positive attitude.”

Kacy Duke (Laverne Cox) wears a long white jacket and stands against a brick wall.

Kacy Duke (Laverne Cox)


“I’ve been fortunate enough to work in the Shondaland family for a while. I had a guest star on Private Practice, which was my first foray into the land. I was at a Scandal table read in the last season when word got out that Shonda was having a deal with Netflix and that she was optioning the story. And I can remember running home, researching the article, and praying that there was a role. Like, Please. I will play waitress number five from the right, whatever. I would love to stay in Shondaland. I also had my baby while on Scandal, and Shonda’s just the most incredible boss for moms. And so I got the call that there was a role for me in this Anna Delvey universe. And I don’t think she finished the sentence before I said yes.”

Neff (Alexis Floyd) wears a glossy leather jacket and stands outside against a brick wall.

Neff (Alexis Floyd)


“I understood the root of their trust pretty well. Having conversations with Neff and keeping her pretty close during the process, it became clear to me. There’s this moment in Episode 5 that I think highlights the bedrock of their mutual trust; it’s a moment of real quietude and stillness in the middle of the glitter tornado. It’s 3:00 a.m. and there’s this dreamy energy in the room, and Anna and Neff are sharing a moment in robes, in bed in a hotel. It’s one of the only times in the series I found Anna sharing, not just what she wants, but why she wants it and the more emotional catalysts to this adventure that she’s on. And I think Neff really sees Anna’s heart in a more vulnerable way at that moment. I think that is the crystallization of the trust that Neff has for Anna. I think it comes from a real human heart-to-heart space.”

Todd Spodek (Arian Moayed) wears a suit and sits on a beige couch.

Todd Spodek (Arian Moayed)


“I think part of the appeal of playing Todd was that Shonda said early on that he’s a good guy, and I really just latched on to that. When you get the job, they give you a research packet. I clicked on one of the [court] transcripts, and then hours later I’d read through so much. I really got a chance to see who Todd was in the courtroom. You can tell that he has a sense of humor and a command of the room. You can tell how many times he objects and how the objections were purposeful, and annoying on purpose. 

When [I] read the article, and saw she didn’t want to get dressed, and Shonda and all the writers had been like, ‘In the last episode there’s a lot of Todd stuff; we get really involved with how she doesn’t want to get dressed,’ I was like, ‘Oh, I wonder what that’s going to be like.’ And at the table read — I recall we got the script hours before — I’m skimming through as everyone’s getting ready to go. And I’m like, Oh man, here we go. And I really felt that, at that last moment, all of this stuff that everyone was wanting to say to her — not only in the show, but it seems like in life — all of a sudden Todd gets to say. And I was like, Let’s triple and quadruple down on this.”