A viral Twitter thread about one woman’s experience of sex trafficking during a 2015 trip to Florida has been turned into a movie, “Zola”.
Inspired by A’Ziah “Zola” King’s 148-tweet thread and a subsequent story in Rolling Stone about her experience, the drama follows Detroit waitress and exotic dancer Zola whose customer Stefani convinces her to travel to Florida for a weekend. But the trip soon turns sinister when Zola realizes they are traveling with a pimp who has other intentions.
“What I do is sex work and that’s what I’m used to and that’s what I’m confident in doing,” King said in an interview. “But the difference in here is I was put into a situation that the conversation turned into sex trafficking.”
King’s account of the trip, whose details she later said she embellished, lit up social media, trending under the hashtag #TheStory. Some of those she named in the tweets have disagreed with her depiction of what happened.
“I don’t really feel anything on that specific experience anymore,” King, who is a producer on the film, said about watching her story unfold on the big screen. It will also star Nicholas Braun and Colman Domingo.
“I’m a completely different person in a completely different space. At this point in time when I watch the movie, I can enjoy the artistic side of it. … This is many different conversations. This is a sex work conversation, this is a race conversation. This is a feminism conversation.”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” actress Taylour Paige plays Zola while Riley Keough, known for “Earthquake Bird” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” portrays Stefani.
“I was a little bit stressed at first because I didn’t get to hang out with Zola,” Paige said of her role preparation. “But (director) Janicza (Bravo) was like, ‘Remember, this is an interpretation of an interpretation of a perception and it’s hyperboles. So … this is like the exaggerated version.'”
“Zola” will be released June 30. Watch the official trailer below.
(Reporting by Alicia Powell; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Richard Chang)
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