“You wanna hear a story about how me and this b***h fell out,” starts off the beginning to the “full of suspense” movie that is, Zola.
The film is based off a 148-tweet thread created by Detroit waitress Aziah “Zola” King in October of 2015. The film depicts Zola’s experience when a quick “ho trip” to make money with a new friend goes terribly wrong. Zola [Taylour Paige] meets a sex worker named Stefani [Riley Keough] while working at a diner. The two quickly bond over pole dancing and exchange numbers. Only a day later, Stefani invites Zola on a cross country road trip to Florida with her friend [Colman Domingo] and boyfriend Derrek [Nicholas Braun] to make as much money as possible dancing in Florida strip clubs. Zola didn’t know it yet but she was signing on to an unexpected, two-day wild adventure that would change her life forever.
Zola and Stefani were drawn to each other in real life and Paige and Keough’s portrayal of this fierce connection was undeniably intense. “I can only take credit for some of it and the other just feels like some divine thing because it was definitely like a really big, spiritual, cosmic celebration,” Paige recalls. The pair formed as quick of a bond as the characters they were portraying, creating an electrifying chemistry. Committing to understanding the mindset of both Stefani and Zola was high on the agenda, however Paige took her commitment to the ultimate level when it came to accurately depicting an exotic dancer. She started dancing at Crazy Girls in Hollywood, CA under the stage name of Lola in order to gain an authentic experience as a dancer. “I was working at the strip club for four weeks and I also took lessons – I trained a little bit but I didn’t want to look like a ballerina or a trained dancer,” Paige explains.
While the ladies were the main act both Domingo and Braun held their own serving several moments of comedic relief and angst. The ladies were also not the only ones showing skin as Derrek, played by Braun has a moment where he just might have to strip down as well. “I’m in the scene with Colman [Domingo] and I was just worried about him looking at me, staring at my abs and butt and stuff – he wanted to do a scene where he spanks me and I was like, no that’s not part of the scene,” Braun jokes.
Zola takes viewers on a rollercoaster of a ride filmed with a 16-millimeter camera giving the audience a fisheye look into the wildly unbelievable events that took place when you combine trusting the wrong person, a pimp, money, and Florida. Zola premieres on June 30 in theaters everywhere.