Ahead Of A24's Zola, The Movie's Real-Life Inspiration Clears Some Things Up

A24 Zola
(Image credit: A24)

2015 is a year that will live in infamy and Twitter history for one simple reason: the Zola thread. Zola, aka A'Ziah Wells King, wrote a 148-tweet thread about how she was scammed by a white girl in Florida that instantly went viral. The storytelling within her thread was so compelling and hilarious that it prompted A24, the company behind Minari, to make a film based on it. The Zola trailer is now out and you'd think the rest, as they say, would be history. Well, not quite, as the real-life inspiration for the film took to Twitter once again to clear up a few things.

In her initial thread, A’Ziah Wells King talked about a lot of crazy occurrences – pimps, shootings and suicide attempts, to name a few. It was so crazy, in fact, that people had only more questions and even more assumptions. Following the huge reaction to A24’s release of the Zola trailer, one of the film’s screenwriters defended against the perception that because of the material, King must have been “from the hood” and on “drugs.” King also dispelled against thos on her original Twitter account:

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It might be a surprise to many that such an outlandish set of experiences at the heart of Zola were done so completely sober, without liquid courage or anything else. But A’Ziah Wells King and screenwriter Jeremy O. Harris are touching on something much more nuanced in their recent statements than just sobriety. It is about how the intersection of race, class and perception can rear its ugly head even in something as fun and funny as a Twitter thread.

In contrast, the white character “Jess” in this story has been given more allowances because of her race when it comes to the Zola film. Many Twitter users have been even asking if “Jess” should get paid for A’Ziah Wells King’s original story-turned-film. King clarified that “Jess” was the villain of the story who lied and supposedly signed official court documents that prevent her from profiting off the story. She also provided updates on some of the other characters in the story in another tweet:

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The original Zola story is a wild read, without a doubt, but it often faced the brunt of accusations that “based on a true story” was a lie. Still, The Washington Post stated back in 2015 that it was “able to verify large portions of Wells’s tale,” despite her refusal to clarify details to them at the time. Now the Zola film, starring Taylour Paige and Riley Keough in the lead roles, appears to follow through that there was no drinking or drugs in the newly-released trailer. But we'll only know for sure when it makes its worldwide premiere this June.

The Zola trailer actually looks to be just as promising as the viral thread itself. The opening tagline is but one part of its brilliant audacity. Taylour Paige, coming off the success of her small role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, seems to pair bombastically next to Riley Keough, and A24 doesn’t usually disappoint. More importantly. the ecstatic reaction to the first look indicates that the myth and power of the Zola thread continues to live on no matter what.

Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.