Movies & TV

Chase Sikorski in Inventing Anna Is Probably Based on a Real Guy

We've got a pretty good guess.
IMAGE AARON EPSTEIN/NETFLIX

The following story contains light spoilers for Netflix's Inventing Anna.


Every episode of Inventing Anna, Netflix's new Shonda Rhimes-produced limited series depicting the story of the infamous scammer Anna Sorokin (also known as Anna Delvey and played by Julia Garner), begins with the same disclaimer: "This whole story is completely true. Except for all of the parts that are totally made up."

That's just two sentences, but it covers quite a bit of ground. Part of it, surely, is based on the fact that this is a "true story" depiction of a person who told a lot of lies. So the truth pieced together from the different third-party accounts of things is probably the best we'll ever get. But another part of that disclaimer comes from the fact that both Inventing Anna the series, and the original New York magazine article upon which the story is based, changes identities. In the show, some names—such as New York writer Jessica Pressler, who in the series is named Vivian Kent and works for Manhattan—are changed, and in the article, some names are withheld on background.

One person not identified by real name in either the New York piece or Inventing Anna is Anna's boyfriend, played in the show by actor Saamer Usmani (best known for his two-episode turn as a fling of Shiv Roy in Succession). Inventing Anna calls this person "Chase Sikorski," which is a fictionalized name. He's introduced to the show giving a TED Talk, shilling his company, which is some sort of cloud-based dream database called "Wake." Eventually, despite Anna helping Chase secure some funding for his company, he winds up with no money, an empty office, and employees he hasn't paid. Clearly, Inventing Anna wants us to wonder if Anna "Delvey" was really the only scammer in this relationship.

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But that's kind of hard to do if we don't know who, exactly, our Chase Sikorski is based on. Here are a few ideas:

Who is Chase Sikorski in Inventing Anna based on?

Photo by AARON EPSTEIN/NETFLIX.

It's worth mentioning, again, that there is no Chase Sikorski, and there was not a "Wake," his start-up. Both this name and this company have been fictionalized. While he went unnamed in the New York article, there were a few hints and details about him. It refers to him as someone who was “on the TED-Talks circuit who’d been profiled in The New Yorker," and also added that Sorokin “ran around with him” for a while in 2015.

The next year, the article reports, the boyfriend got out of dodge. “Then it was 2016. The guy, whose app never materialized, moved to the Emirates, and Anna came to New York on her own.” This kind of insinuates that the timelines of Inventing Anna are a little bit messed around as well, because the Anna we see was already making moves in New York for a while prior to her and "Chase" breaking up.

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So, we don't know who exactly he is, but the New York Post did a good job of narrowing down some potential candidates. Online chatter from years past seemed to speculate that the two prime candidates were David Shing (also known as "Shingy"), who was a former AOL executive from Australia with an eccentric sense of style who once gave a TEDx Talk about people being "connected" which Chase says in his talk, and Ray Kurzweil, who has written books on Artificial Intelligence and other things of the ilk. Both fit the "TED/ Futurist/Profiled by the New Yorker" description, but Shingy is 50 and Kurzweil is 73 (Sorokin in 31), making the match seem less likely.

Anna Sorokin's boyfriend is most likely based on Hunter Lee Soik

Hunter Lee Soik is 40 (significantly younger than the other two mentioned candidates), has been profiled by The New Yorker, lived in Dubai, and actually even created an app that involved dreams. On a Kickstarter page for his app called "SHADOW," he appears in a video pitching to create the "largest dream database" in the world. You may recall Chase making basically an entire pitch along these lines in the Ibiza episode of Inventing Anna (when Anna somehow managed to bail him out and close the deal for him).

Speaking of that episode, Soik is also tagged in an image—in Ibiza, of all places—on Delvey/Sorokin's Instagram. "#Ibiza to #Formentera last days of summer with @jaymacardoso @hunterleesoik," the caption reads.

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Based on Inventing Anna, the New York piece, Sorokin's Instagram feed, and her post-prison Twitter feed, this is a relationship that did not last. "Looking for a boyfriend," she Tweeted in February 2021, before following up shortly after. "Need help going through applications"

Sorokin returned to prison in March 2021 on a Visa-related issue, so the search will presumably have to wait at least a bit longer.

From: Men's Health US

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About The Author
Evan Romano
Evan is the culture editor for Men’' Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn't.
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