As a highly-anticipated film even before its January 2020 world premiere at Sundance, A24‘s Zola is finally making its way into select theaters this week. It is the latest step in the journey for the film, based on the viral 148-tweet thread by A’Ziah “Zola” King several years ago. King has been heavily involved in the production of the film every step of the way and has an executive producer and a ‘based on’ credit.
This version of the film, directed by Janicza Bravo (she co-wrote the film with Jeremy O. Harris), is probably much different than the film that may have come about when James Franco was initially attached to it. The lens of the final product is one that is out of the white, male gaze as we go inside the bonkers road trip that started it all.
King has noted that a lot of people are surprised that she actually had so much say in her story being brought to the big screen.
“For whatever reason, I don’t know why this shocks people, but people are shocked that I’ve been a part of the entire process and people are shocked that I feel I’ve been treated fairly,” she told Shadow and Act in a recent interview along with Bravo and Harris. “Like…I didn’t have a negative experience at all. So I don’t know why that surprises people. I’m like, ‘Do you know me? Like, what else would have been the outcome?’ I’m very secure in my voice. So, my story is going to get told, period. Of course, I should be a part of it. That’s the biggest thing I get asked that so much, people want to hear a horror story and I don’t have one. Besides the one I already told.
Bravo chimed in, adding, “That’s also because here we were able to set a precedent. Right? I think the reason people are surprised is because there are people before you, who have been taken advantage of…or whose stories have been taken from them and they’re not credited the way they deserve. And so, I think it is shocking to people that, that matters here. And not only that it mattered, but that we’re leading with it. And you’re doing press with us, obviously, because you are a part of the story. Right?”
“I felt I was being treated fairly, but it still didn’t even take until Janicza came to even explain or tell me what the hell an EP credit was [laughs],” King continued. “Like, ‘What the F? I did what, girl?’ So that helps, that’s why I say Black people should work with other Black people. Because they not going to tell you what you deserve or what you could. Like no shade, but they’re not. Cause why would they? But Ms. Janicza did.”
Watch a portion of the interview below:
Zola is in select theaters today.