TV & Movies

Dumb Money Based Jennifer Campbell On “Several Real-Life Figures”

“She doesn’t have the privilege of losing it all and knowing that there is going to be a safety net there for her,” America Ferrera told Vanity Fair.

America Ferrera in 'Dumb Money.' Photo via Sony
Claire Folger/Columbia Pictures

Dumb Money examines the 2021 GameStop short squeeze through multiple perspectives: the hedge funds who bet against the video game retailer and the everyday people who invested in its shares, made lots of money, and shook up the stock market in the process. In the latter camp, you meet people like Jennifer Campbell (played by America Ferrera), a nurse who follows the financial analyst who inspired the short squeeze online. Like many of Keith Gill’s followers, Jennifer is intrigued by the movement and invests her savings into GameStop.

So, is Jennifer Campbell based on a real person? Many of the actors in Dumb Money’s star-studded cast portray real people from the headlines. But in Jennifer’s case, Ferrera actually plays a “fictionalized amalgam [who] is inspired by several real-life figures who invested everything they had,” according to Vanity Fair. So, while Jennifer Campbell may not be literal, her experience is definitely rooted in reality.

“This is a character who seems like she’s living paycheck to paycheck,” Ferrera told the magazine. “She doesn’t have the privilege of losing it all and knowing that there is going to be a safety net there for her.”

In the two years since the GameStop short squeeze, many people have shared their experience investing in the company. One couple featured in The New York Times included a nurse, like Jennifer, who moved her savings to GameStop. Her husband, a clinical data scientist, persuaded her to do so after following Gill, aka Roaring Kitty — the same channel Ferrera’s character watches in the film.

Similarly, Jennifer’s hesitance to sell her stock is reflective of real-life traders. One Forbes article documented this aspect of the short squeeze — in which some people made a lot of money, and others waited too long to get out. “There’s going to be people who’ve had significant losses, who bought it at the top — who had no idea what they were doing and only looked at it with zeal and probably some jealousy [of] wanting to get involved,” David Mazza, a managing director at Direxion, told the outlet. “We live in an environment of populism where information spreads through smartphones and social media, where good situations can become bad very quickly.”

In playing Jennifer, Ferrera was well aware of the community aspect of the GameStop short squeeze — and its potential perils. “She had far more to lose than to gain. There was this element of being a part of something big, something that felt like sticking it to the people on top,” she told Vanity Fair. “There was a real defiance in it.”