The trainer befriended by Anna Delvey talks to ET about the Netflix series and what she thinks of Laverne Cox's portrayal of her.
Following the release of Shonda Rhimes’ limited true-crime drama, Inventing Anna, celebrity trainer Kacy Duke is sharing how she really feels about the Netflix series. Portrayed by Laverne Cox, Duke was one of the many people sucked in and then conned by Anna Delvey, aka the “Fake German Heiress” convicted of scamming some of New York’s elite, high-end hotels and restaurants and banks out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Wow, what a ride it’s been,” Duke tells ET’s Lauren Zima after watching all nine episodes of the binge-worthy Inventing Anna. Even though it brought back some unpleasant memories of her experiences with Delvey, including being invited on the now infamous Morocco trip where things went awry, Duke says “to have your story told and the truth come out is pretty amazing. It feels good in that way.”
She adds, “It’s an experience, you know, to relive it.”
After journalist Jessica Pressler first ignited a media frenzy with the 2018 New York magazine article, “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People,” Delvey is now at the center of the star-studded series, with Julia Garner portraying her onscreen.
In the article, Duke was depicted as “a personal trainer–slash–life coach she’d found online, a svelte, ageless Oprah-esque figure who works with celebrities like Dakota Johnson.” And the scripted series recounted her experiences with Delvey, including being paid in cash for her training sessions that the expat bought for her and her friends, Neff Davis (Alexis Floyd) and Rachel Williams (Katie Lowes).
Eventually, Duke, along with Williams and another friend, was invited by Delvey to join her on an “all-expenses-paid” trip to Marrakesh, Morocco. The trip didn’t last long, at least for the trainer, who came down with a case of food poisoning and returned to New York City days after arriving. “I was sick as a dog,” Duke says now.
While Duke didn’t witness what happened with Williams, who was convinced to pay for the trip with the promise that Delvey would pay her back after her credit cards were declined, she soon heard about it. And that’s when she started to see through Delvey’s Instagram-filtered guise.
A week later, after the friends’ getaway had fallen apart, Delvey called Duke in hysterics from Casablanca, where she was unable to pay her hotel bill and get a flight home. She convinced Duke to buy her a ticket before asking to be put in first class. Once in New York, Delvey tried to make herself a houseguest at Duke’s apartment and that was the beginning of the end for the two.
While Duke was able to distance herself from Delvey, it wasn’t until she was in court that she learned more about what happened to Williams following the trip. Not only did she sell her story to her former employer, Vanity Fair, but she also published a memoir, allowing herself to make money from the situation. As seen on the series, the moment was a shocking one for Duke, who had supported Williams through her trauma.
“When I was, you know, having to go to court -- and I went to court to support Rachel -- and to see and to hear all the things that I didn’t know was going on, it was pretty hurtful,” Duke recalls, adding, “Rachel, you know, I wish [she] would have been more honest with me, but I kind of I get it.”
Despite that, Williams “was a victim like the rest of us,” Duke says, pushing back on the idea that she was a villain in this scripted version of events. “But I’m a little mixed because I wish she would have been honest with me about getting the book deal, getting the HBO deal, all that stuff. Because I took off work and a lot of money to be supportive to her in court, which I don’t regret. But I wish that she would have been a little more honest with me.”
When it comes to how the series recounted events, Duke says, “There’s a couple of glossy things, but it’s pretty accurate.” She adds that Cox, whom she met during production, “did a great job [and] she really got my humanity and she got the grace.” (“We had a four-hour lunch where she told me her whole entire life story, which is incredible,” Cox previously shared. “There should be a Kacy biopic [because] she has lived a life, honey. She has stories.”)
With the release of the series, Williams thinks that Delvey is being repositioned “from fraudster to front-row” and will only benefit from her portrayal on Netflix. And Duke is sure that Delvey “will probably try to find fame.” But at the end of the day, even if you want to root for her, the trainer says, “She did a crime, and she hurt a lot of people.”
Delvey was eventually found guilty of larceny in 2019 and was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison. She was released early in 2021 before being taken into custody by ICE, where she still is today, for violating terms of her visa.
During Delvey’s brief time out of prison, Duke says Delvey reached out to her via Instagram, asking if she wanted to have a reunion. While the trainer ultimately declined, she left her with some advice, “I said, ‘You have newfound fame here. Use it more wisely. You’re smart. Make better choices.’ And that’s how we left it.”