Netflix’s Girlboss is loosely based on the real-life, rags-to-riches story of young entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso (2024)

When you go from dumpster-diving for leftovers to a net worth of US$250 million (Dh918m) by the age of 28 – especially when you are a woman who could charitably be called a misfit and an anarchist – people notice.

People like Oscar-winner Charlize Theron, who snapped up the rights to the rag-trade-to-riches true-life story of Sophia Amoruso, whose autobiography #Girlboss became a New York Times bestseller in 2014.

And people like 30 Rock and Pitch Perfect screenwriter Kay Cannon, who joined executive producers Theron and Amoruso to create Girlboss – a new Netflix series available to stream from April 21 – which traces the outsider's meteoric rise as the founder of the Nasty Gal online fashion empire.

Theron says she bonded immediately with the real-life heroine of the story, a high-school dropout who found a lifeline selling vintage clothing on eBay.

“The book was given to me, and from the image of Sophia on the cover on the bright pink cover page, something just really grabbed me about it,” says Theron, who has long been critical of Hollywood for pigeonholing actresses into mother and girlfriend roles.

“I had no idea what I was going to read, and I was really thoroughly surprised that it wasn’t really [Amoruso’s] life story, but that it was these little chapters that I found very amusing on young adulthood. The young girl in me was kind of envious and wished that she had something like that when she was in her 20s. That sparked something for me.”

Starring as Amoruso – with intensity and attitude that radiate from the screen – is American actress Britt Robertson, whose big break came when she starred as a scientifically curious teen alongside George Clooney and Hugh Laurie in the futuristic movie Tomorrowland in 2015.

Her Girlboss co-stars include: Dean Norris (Breaking Bad, Under the Dome), Ellie Reed (2 Broke Girls), Alphonso McAuley (Breaking In) and Johnny Simmons (The Perks of Being a Wallflower).

Shot in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the 13 half-hour episodes reflect Amoruso’s philosophy that success has nothing to do with where you went to school or how popular you were there – it is about trusting your instincts, following your gut and knowing which rules to follow and which to break.

Within a decade of her eBay debut, Amoruso had put petty theft and hitchhiking days behind her, as she enshrined as the founder and executive chairman of Nasty Gal, a $250 million-plus fashion retailer with more than 400 employees. Celebrity customers include the likes of Christina Aguilera, Ashley Benson, Kelly Osbourne, Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears.

Being her own boss proved the hardest part of the Cinderella story.

“I built a whole career on flawed and [messed] up characters,” says Theron, “so there’s a part of me... I have a love affair with that stuff and this felt so incredibly layered.

“Yes, it’s a true-life story, but it’s a story that we can tell in a way that’s really a homage to her life – but also something we can build and have it be a standalone thing. That just gave it so much possibility.”

Amoruso, now 32, quickly came on board after meeting the producers.

“It was one of those things where all paths were pointing in the same direction,” she says. “This is an incredible team. This is a crazy thing to have happen in your lifetime. So, [I thought] yes [let’s do it]. Wins all around.”

Cannon points out the TV show is a loose retelling of Amoruso’s story, while remaining true to the facts. Telling a woman’s story honestly, warts and all, is still a challenge even in 2017, says Theron, who praises the creative freedom her team enjoyed at Netflix.

“When we got the rights, we pitched this to one other place ... and the feedback that we got was absolutely shocking,” she says. “There were mostly men in the room. [They said] people are not going to like [Amoruso]. People are going to find her too abrasive. You have to make sure that the audience likes her, likes her, likes her, likes her.

"And I always wonder in my head: how many times did Robert De Niro hear that when he was doing Taxi Driver? How many times did Jack Nicholson hear that when he was doing The Shining?"

• Girlboss will be available to stream on Netflix from April 21

Netflix’s Girlboss is loosely based on the real-life, rags-to-riches story of young entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso (2024)


What is Girlboss loosely based on? ›

Netflix has launched a new series "Girlboss" that is loosely based on Nasty Gal's Sophia Amoruso.

Is Netflix Girlboss based on a true story? ›

In 2016, it was announced that Netflix would be adapting her autobiography into a television series called Girlboss. Amoruso confirms most of the show was accurate to her life.

Why did Sophia Amoruso leave Girlboss? ›

It's the end of an era for #Girlboss as founder and CEO Sophia Amoruso steps down. After selling ownership of the company she founded back in December, Amoruso cites the pandemic and declining revenue as a reason to step away.

Why did Nasty Gal fail? ›

The pieces of clothing Nasty Gal were producing did not look as good as they were styled online and many orders were returned. A company founded on selling high name vintage brands such as Chanel needed to keep the quality of the garments they produce high, even if they were priced at an affordable price point.

How did Sophia Amoruso start her business? ›

Sophia grew her fashion brand “Nasty Gal” in 6 years, and went from selling on eBay from the apartment of her bedroom to earning $100 million in revenue per year. Today, she is the founder of Girl Boss Media and is empowering young female entrepreneurs to be the best they can be.

What is Girlboss defined as? ›

: an ambitious and successful woman (especially a businesswoman or entrepreneur) As … a female captain of industry, she became an accidental role model of female ambition and success. She was the ultimate girlboss.

Why did Netflix cancel Girlboss? ›

In the first place, the show was bland and un-engaging. Predictable humour and underwhelming performances made sure it was never going to be a ratings winner. It can't even belong to the so-bad-it's-good category because it was so boring, a real feat for a Netflix original series which are mostly always so, so good.

Is Girlboss really about Nasty Gal? ›

Based on the real-life story of Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, and her bestselling memoir #GIRLBOSS, the show is just not very good, presenting us with a version of events that favors millennial caricature over really digging into its protagonist's guts in any meaningful way.

Is Girlboss feminist? ›

The girlboss exists within a complex intersection of neoliberal feminist and postfeminist ideologies, and it epitomizes a prevailing sentiment that views gender equality as mostly-achieved, particularly within professional spheres.

Does Sophia Amoruso own Girlboss? ›

Why Sophia Amoruso Sold Girlboss to a Holding Company. A lot has happened since 2017. You sold the company to Attention Capital, a holding company two years after you founded Girlboss. Why did you sell it?

Did Sophia Amoruso sell Girlboss? ›

Amoruso then pivoted to create the Girlboss Media brand and job-seeking site, which she sold in 2019, by which time the term girlboss had become embarrassing, if not derogatory.

When did Sophia Amoruso start Nasty Gal? ›

Sophia Amoruso is the founder of Nasty Gal, an eBay store she launched in 2006 at the age of 22.

Does Nasty Gal still exist? ›

In 2016, Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy. The British-owned BooHoo Group announced in February 2017 that they had purchased Nasty Gal. In November 2017, Nasty Gal opened its first UK pop-up shop on London's Carnaby Street.

Is Nasty Gal a bad company? ›

Nasty Gal scored low for the Environment, Animals, and People, partly because it is a fast fashion company and commits all kinds of ethical infractions.

Who is Nasty Gal based on? ›

History. In 2006, while working as a campus safety host at Academy of Art University, Amoruso launched an eBay store based in San Francisco, selling old pieces of clothing. The store was named Nasty Gal Vintage, the name being inspired by Betty Davis.

What shop is Girlboss based on? ›

When I was 22, I started a little eBay store selling vintage out of the back of an '87 Volvo and named it Nasty Gal. Over the years, I scaled the business to $100,000,000 in revenue and wrote a New York Times Bestselling book about the whole thing and named it #GIRLBOSS.

What parts of Girlboss are real? ›

While parts of the series are fictionalized for your binge-watching pleasure, many plot lines do come straight from Amoruso's bestselling 2014 memoir, #GIRLBOSS. One thing that really did happen to Amoruso: That whole inguinal hernia situation.


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