A24 has released the first teaser for the long-awaited Zola. The movie is based on the epic 2015 viral Twitter thread by ex-stripper Aziah “Zola” Wells. The movie is directed and written by Janicza Bravo and it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Zola stars Riley Keough, Taylour Paige, and Nicholas Braun, as they bring the epic true story to life on the screen. The wild story has been talked about for nearly five years now, but this is the first time that it has been brought to the screen.
Janicza Bravo spoke about Zola at the beginning of the year after it premiered. “You’re like, this is not funny on paper. Like it’s not funny. But [A’Ziah] managed to extrapolate all of this humor and tension and stress and anxiety and it just like got me,” she says. Bravo is not alone in her thoughts. Missy Elliot, Keke Palmer, Solange Knowles joined thousands obsessing online about the Twitter thread when it first started to circulate. “Drama, humor, action, suspense, character development,” said director Ava DuVernay. Bravo continued, “I could feel the blood coursing through my veins and I wanted it and I thought that like only a black girl could’ve experienced that and processed it and exorcised it.”
The Zola teaser begins just like the 2015 Twitter thread. “You wanna hear a story about how me and this bitch here fell out? It’s kinda long but it’s full of suspense,” says Taylour Paige as Aziah “Zola” Wells in the clip. Through the footage, we see she and Riley Keough as they apply their makeup in front of a mirror. Little do they know that things are about to get really, really weird. “Most of what follows is true,” says a message on the screen. It’s the perfect way to draw prospective audiences in.
Like many people, Janicza Bravo felt that the story was perfect for a movie. James Franco was originally on board to helm it, but later bowed out. “From the moment it entered into my hands, I was like, ‘Must make it now.’ And I tried, I tried to get the story, and it didn’t happen,” says Bravo. Thankfully, she was able to pull it all together with the help of A24. Bravo had this to say about the final cut.
“I am proud of the film. I feel good about the film. I said mostly what I wanted to say, and that’s all I can ask for. The real Zola got to see it, and she gave me a thumbs up. Honestly, to me, that’s what I needed.”
Getting the thumbs up from Aziah “Zola” Wells is huge for Zola. While the story was told entirely by her on social media, there’s still a lot more that had to be done from a storytelling perspective to make for an engaging movie. Luckily, it seems that Janicza Bravo was able to do the story justice. There currently is no release date set for Zola, though we should hopefully receive one soon. You can watch the teaser above, thanks to the A24 Twitter account.