In another case of allegedly misappropriated identity, a real-life maid has sued the author of the novel, “The Help,” claiming that the author used her likeness and name for one of the two main characters in the book without her permission. Ablene Cooper works for author Kathryn Stockett’s brother and sister-in-law. Cooper says that Stockett’s brother and sister-in-law support her lawsuit.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Esquire, Ablene Cooper outlines the similarities between herself and the character in the book in her lawsuit. She points out that she and the character are both middle-aged African-American women who work for white families as maids. The book’s character is named Abileen Clark and both the character and Ablene are called “Aibee” by the family that employs them. Both Aibees also have a gold tooth and a grown son who dies right before the birth of their employer’s first child.
Stockett insists that Abileen Clark is a fictional character. She says that she only met Ablene Cooper “briefly.” The author says that her fictional character is “a true heroine.” It’s unclear from the THR, Esq. article whether Stockett is saying that a difference between the two Aibees is that only one is a true heroine, but it takes courage and pluck to stick up for your intellectual property rights — ask Hulk Hogan! The book was a hit with readers and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 97 weeks.