Zola

Zola Movie

Zola Movie

Zola (@zola) is a 2020 American black comedy crime film based on Aziah “Zola” King’s famous Twitter thread and David Kushner’s Rolling Stone piece “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted.” It stars Taylour Paige as Zola, a part-time stripper who is persuaded by her new friend (Riley Keough) to fly to Tampa, Florida, in order to make money, only to find herself in over her head; Colman Domingo, Nicholas Braun, and Ari’el Stachel also star.

The film made its international premiere on January 24, 2020, at the Sundance Film Festival, and was distributed in the United States by A24 on June 30, 2021, after a year delay due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The critical response to the film was overwhelmingly good.

Release

On January 24, 2020, the film made its international premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for a Grand Jury Award pre-screening. The film’s foreign rights (except Canada and Japan) were acquired by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and Stage 6 Films. On June 30, 2021, it was released in the United States.

Plot

While serving Stefani, an outgoing and brash fellow stripper, Aziah “Zola” King, a self-assured waitress and part-time stripper in Detroit, meets her. Stefani invites Zola to dance with her that night at a club, and the two quickly become friends. The next day, Stefani invites Zola to accompany her on a road trip to Tampa, Florida, where she promises the two can make a lot of money at a strip club. On a road trip, Zola meets Stefani, her enigmatic roommate, X, and Stefani’s shy boyfriend, Derrek.

When Stefani, Zola, and X arrive in Tampa, they leave Derrek at a shabby motel and go to a bar where Stefani claims her friends earned almost $5,000 in one night. The two go on a show at the club, but they don’t make nearly as much money as Stefani predicted. Following that, Zola discovers that Stefani and X have used images of her and Stefani in a Backpage ad for a night of sex with them. Zola tries to flee but is stopped by X, who turns out to be Stefani’s pimp.

X takes the ladies to a high-end hotel, where Stefani has sex with a male client. When Zola discovers that X is only charging $150 for each sexual session Stefani has, she is offended. Stefani had made almost $8,000 by the end of the night, thanks to Zola’s editing of the Backpage advertisement. Initially, X is offended by Zola’s involvement, but he soon grows pleased. Meanwhile, Derrek, who is left to his own devices, meets and befriends a man named Dion at the motel. When X, Stefani, and Zola return to the motel, X is furious to learn that Derrek had told Dion about their vacation to Tampa. Concerned that Dion and his pal will be harmed

X arranges for Stefani to visit more clients at various locations after landing at a new hotel, while a hesitant Zola sits by to protect Stefani’s safety. When Derrek discovers Stefani is once again indulging in prostitution, he confronts her, revealing to Zola that Stefani has duped other dancers into participating in similar prostitution rackets. Zola is enraged, and he loses faith in Stefani. When X bursts in with Baybe, his lover and madam, who is armed with a gun, Derrek and Stefani’s fight is interrupted. After resolving the situation, X hands Zola a gun for the women’s safety, and Stefani and Zola are dispatched to continue meeting with clients.

The two ladies visit another hotel after Stefani joins in a gang bang with many men at a private property, where a client has answered to their Backpage post. Stefani is dragged into the hotel room by the client as soon as the door is opened. Zola runs away, horrified, and calls X and Derrek on her phone. When the three return to the room, they discover Dion and an accomplice, both armed with shotguns, who have pretended to be clients in order to steal Stefani’s earnings. Under duress, X offers the guys $50,000 in exchange for letting him and Derrek escape with Stefani, who has been beaten unconscious. As Dion gropes Zola, X manages to grab the revolver from Zola’s purse and shoots Dion in the throat. The party flees the hotel, dropping Dion’s firearms into Tampa Bay to dispose of them.

Eventually, the group arrives at X’s enormous, opulent mansion, which he shares with Baybe. When X brags about his control of Stefani, Derrek threatens to kill himself if Stefani stays loyal to him. Derrek quickly jumps off a balcony, landing on the concrete below and bruising his skull. To transport Derrek to the hospital, Zola, Stefani, and X left. Stefani declares her love for Zola in the car, but she is met with cool disgust as a weary Zola ignores her and looks out the window.

Cast

  • Taylour Paige as Aziah “Zola” King
  • Riley Keough as Stefani
  • Nicholas Braun as Derrek
  • Ari’el Stachel as Sean
  • Colman Domingo as Abegunde “X” Olawale
  • Jason Mitchell as Dion
  • Ts Madison as Hollywood
  • Nelcie Souffrant as Gail
  • Nasir Rahim as Jonathan
  • Sophie Hall as Baybe
  • Jarquale Stewart as C.C.

Production

Aziah “Zola” King, a Detroit waitress, posted a 148-tweet thread about a trip she took to Florida with a stripper named Jessica in October 2015; the story, which included details of prostitution, murder, and attempted suicide, quickly went viral, gaining the attention of Missy Elliott, Solange Knowles, and Ava DuVernay. While the article found some contradictions in the claims, and King has admitted to inflating some of the more sensational elements, the majority of those involved have admitted to the broad substance of the story.

 

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