‘Zola’: Why Janicza Bravo Took “Secret Pictures” of Taylour Paige When Casting the Film

     February 3, 2020

I’d like to bet you’ve never seen anything like Zola before. The film was adapted from a 144-tweet epic posted by A’ziah “Zola” King in October of 2015. In the feature version, she’s played by Taylour Paige. While working as a waitress, Zola meets Stefani (Riley Keough) and the two spark a quick connection. Just a day later, Zola agrees to go with Stefani and her boyfriend Derrek (Nicholas Braun) on a cross-country road trip to make some money dancing in Florida strip clubs. No synopsis will do the rest of the story justice, so I’ll leave the rest to be discovered when A24 releases the film this summer.

While in Park City for Zola’s Sundance Film Festival world premiere, King, Paige, Braun, Coleman Domingo, writer Jeremy O. Harris, and writer-director Janicza Bravo all swung by the Collider Studio at the Kia Supper Suite to tell us a bit about making the movie. After getting a good deal of interest in adapting her story, King told us why Bravo’s rendition was the one she went for. Paige and Bravo also told us all about the unusual way Paige scored the title role in the film and what it was like playing a main character who’s largely an observer throughout. You can hear about that and more in the video interview at the top of this article! Also, in case you missed it, click here to read Matt Goldberg’s review of the film.

kia-supper-suite-marbl-toronto-logo-sundance-2020Finally, I’d like to give special thanks to our Collider Studio Presenting Partner, the Kia Telluride SUV, the 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year. Additional thanks to support sponsors Glenfiddich Scotch, Peroni Beer, Marbl Toronto, mou footwear, ic! berlin sunglasses and clothing lines, Laundry by Sheli Segal and Orginal Penguin.

Jeremy O. Harris, Colman Domingo, Nicholas Braun, Taylour Paige, A’Ziah King, Janicza Bravo

  • 00:42 – King on what it was like being approached for a film adaptation of her story.
  • 01:09 – Was she getting a lot of offers? What was it about this particular take that made her say, ‘This is the one?’
  • 01:57 – Bravo and Harris on what they think is the key to successfully adapting a social media story to screen.
  • 03:43 – Paige and Bravo on how they first met and why Bravo thought Paige would be perfect for the role. 
  • 05:25 – What were Paige’s burning questions for Bravo after first reading the script? How did she go about making this role her own?
  • 07:10 – Does being an observer through much of the film change Paige’s prep process at all?
  • 08:00 – Braun on making the jump from Greg in Succession to the role of Derrek in Zola.
  • 09:47 – Domingo on ensuring that X has a huge presence in every scene he’s in.
  • 10:41 – The team talks about shooting the film on location in Tampa. 

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