"Inventing Anna" is the new Shondaland Netflix series that follows slightly fictionalized retellings of the life and crimes of swindler and upper-cruster Anna Delvey (or, Anna Sorokin). In the show, we see Anna building much of her social empire with the help of her tech business boyfriend, Chase. Those who have already binged the show know that Chase plays a really significant role in Anna's story — but, does Chase, or some version of Chase, exist in real life?
The short answer to that question is "maybe."
The long answer is as follows.
In the show, Anna (played by Julia Garner) introduces her boyfriend Chase (played by Saamer Usmani from "Succession") in episode two. His character is introduced in a TED Talk, in which he is explaining to the audience the concept of his new dream-analyzing app, "WAKE." He boasts about the cloud-sourcing power of "WAKE" and the revolutionary, dream-storing technology he is inventing. This, of course, sparks Anna's interest in Chase — and the two become a pair from that point forward.
If you've watched the show, you've seen the disclaimer in the beginning which states "This story is completely true. Except for the parts that are totally made up." And while Chase and his tech-bro startup are fictionalized, his identity as Anna's beau is generally based in reality.
There were two standout candidates that social media users and Anna Delvey fanatics had narrowed down to fit the boyfriend role.
In the 2018 New York magazine article that the series was based on, a boyfriend is only mentioned briefly as a blind item, a rumor. But, Jessica Pressler, journalist of the aforementioned article and inspiration behind the character Vivian Kent (played by Anna Chlumsky) describes the boy toy as a "futurist" and someone who was "on the TED-Talks circuit who’d been profiled in The New Yorker." This narrowed the search.
Twitter users speculated, noting that David Shing, or "Shingy," a marketing executive at AOL, got a New Yorker profile in 2014, where they called him "AOL's digital prophet." In David Shing's TED Talk, he talks about "re-ordering the digital landscape" and highlights technological feats like augmented reality — slightly akin to the "dream cloud-sourcing" Chase talks about in the show.
On the other hand, we have Hunter Lee-Soik, a Korean-American self-proclaimed "futurist" who actually did invent an app that analyzes dreams. He also has a profile in The New Yorker, in which he poses the question: "What would happen if we created a space where dreams were organized?"
As if that evidence didn't seem striking enough, he's also mentioned in a 2014 Instagram post from Anna herself. The post features a yacht photographed in the ocean in Ibiza, a location which Chase and Anna travel to in episode two of the series. Thank you, internet.
In 2021, Anna posted on Twitter (from jail!) that she was “looking for a boyfriend” and needed help “sorting through applications” — so we can assume that her alleged relationship with Hunter didn’t work out. It seems even rich, socialite (alleged) scammers in prison can have boyfriend problems.