Has there been any film this year that is more highly anticipated than Zola? The tale of the “ho trip” gone wrong started as a Twitter thread penned by A’Ziah King in 2015, was spun into a feature film by Janicza Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris. The stripper saga starring Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Colman Domingo, Ari'el Stachel, and Nicholas Braun won’t hit theaters until June, but its trailer has finally arrived and it does not disappoint in all of its stranger-than-fiction splendor.
Zola starts with a question: “Y’all wanna hear a story about why me and this bitch here fell out?” the film’s protagonist asks. “It’s kind of long but full of suspense,” she promises.
What follows is the story of what happens when Zola (Paige), a stripper, is convinced by a customer named Stefani (Keough) to travel from Detroit all the way down to Florida, to vibe with each other over a shared sense of “hoeism” only to find themselves at the center of a harebrained scheme that—spoiler alert if you have not read the original viral source material which spans 148 tweets—involves murder and attempted suicide as well as a pimp (Domingo), a half-witted boyfriend named Derrek (Braun), and as the trailer promises, lots of “money” and “titties.”
The story behind the making and release of Zola is almost as bonkers as the story behind the film itself, and it’s been a long time coming. It premiered at Sundance in 2020. It was slated to be released into the world by the springtime, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, movie theaters shut down, and the indie film studio with distribution rights to the film, A24, held off on giving a release date for months.
But now, after watching the trailer, those familiar with Bravo’s direction and Harris’s writing style should expect Zola to be one messy, jaw-dropping ride when it drops on June 30.