The tale of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard told in The Act can seem difficult to believe, but while there are parts of the show that are fictionalized, the events that transpired between the mother and daughter pair are true. The Act depicts the emotional abuse that Gypsy was subjected to prior to her mother's death, during a time when her only contact was a friendly neighbor, Lacey, played by AnnaSophia Robb in The Act. Lacey is not a real person, butThe Act uses her to serve as a stand-in for a real person who formed a friendship with Gypsy and was surprised to learn that the young girl who required a wheelchair to get around and lived with a variety of illnesses was not nearly as sick as the town of Springfield, Missouri believed her to be.
The 2016 Buzzfeed article that inspired the first season of The Act doesn't make any mention of anyone named Lacey, but does mention a neighbor that is around Gypsy's age and becomes her close confidant. The article, "Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom Murdered," written by The Act co-showrunner Michelle Dean, describes Aleah Woodmansee as a big sister of sorts to Gypsy, who did not have any sort of emotional outlet outside of her own mother.
Gypsy spoke to Woodmansee via a Facebook account that she kept hidden from her mother, and told her about a boyfriend she had met online — a man named Nicholas Godejohn. Woodmansee was the person who told the police that Gypsy had a secret boyfriend, but she hadn't known that Nicholas was the person who allegedly killed Dee Dee Blanchard.
"She would show interest in like different boys and try to ask me advice on like, you know, ‘How do you approach them? How do you like kiss a boy? Gypsy just wanted to be a regular teen." Woodmansee told 20/20 in 2018. "I just cried," Woodmansee told Buzzfeed about her reaction to the news that Dee Dee was dead and that many of Gypsy's conditions had been falsified.
Robb told CBS that she enjoyed taking on this fictional role. "This story lives on because some of these people are still alive and in jail. I am honored to be a part of this show and really respect our show runners. They put a lot of consideration into writing these characters. They thought about them as full human beings and explore why these people made the choices they did," she said.
Woodmansee may not be featured by name in The Act, but it's clear that the character of Lacey is meant to be her, though in the series, she is the daughter of Mel, Chloe Sevigny's character. Creating a character like Lacey is not atypical for shows and films that are based off of real events, as these characters can often fulfill the roles of multiple real-life figures without the writers having to worry about adding in too many characters or needing to get the rights to portray certain people who might want their privacy.
But whatever the reason behind the change, the character of Lacey in The Act is representative of the entire community that was fooled by Dee Dee Blanchard.