Twitter thread on woman's sex trafficking turns into film

'Zola' revolves around a waitress' experience of sex trafficking during a 2015 trip to Florida

Reuters June 29, 2021


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 magazine 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, a producer on the film, said about watching her story unfold on the big screen.

“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 actor 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 perception and its hyperboles. So ... this is like the exaggerated version.’”

“Zola” will be released on June 30.

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