Y’all wanna listen to a story about how a Detroit waitress-slash-unique dancer posted a viral Twitter thread and rode the wave straight to Hollywood?
In 2015, A’Ziah “Zola” Wells King thought that tweeting about a traumatic two-day “ho trip” to Florida would aid her get closure. The situations she described — sexual intercourse trafficking, abduction, murder, and an tried suicide — were extra akin to a Steven Soderbergh movie than a carefree road journey. While she admits the functions have been embellished for the sake of the tale, the encounter transformed her. And her 148-tweet thread was just the beginning of that journey.
The story turned the toast of Twitter, with anyone from Ava DuVernay to Missy Elliott weighing in on King’s thread. Quickly, she observed herself negotiating film legal rights for her tale. Fast-forward six yrs, and King and the relaxation of the entire world are reliving her outrageous experience with the release of Zola, directed by Janicza Bravo and co-published by Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris. (King’s original terms were being also printed in a standalone book called The Story, with an introduction by Roxane Gay.)
According to King, the movie feels so precise that she generally jokes, “Is this a documentary? Is that me?” The onscreen “me” she speaks of is Taylour Paige, a relative newcomer who expended enough time with King researching the nuances of her individuality. “Like I informed [Taylour], it was kind of like obtaining an out-of-entire body practical experience in Florida. That’s how I was ready to remain for so extensive,” she claims. “She seriously wished to capture that essence, and she did.”
Now 26 and the mom of two daughters, King is on the brink of a new chapter. The self-proclaimed “Mom initially, ho right away after” desires to channel the abilities of Black creatives like Erykah Badu, Solange Knowles, and “anyone who is so authentically by themselves that it can make them timeless” to aid guidebook her new endeavors, from her OnlyFans page and YouTube channel to her music creating and film ideas. With almost everything she’s lined up, King is proving she’s a lot more than a just one-Tweet-thread-surprise. She has many much more “ho tales” to share — on Twitter and past.
The movie and viral tweets apart, how did the precise practical experience of what occurred in Florida transform your life?
At the time I acquired home and was able to procedure the trauma, I think it transformed me. I utilised to be — and I nevertheless am, but not as a great deal — definitely spontaneous, which is how that trip even arrived about. If I get good vibes from you, or relate to you, we’ll be most effective good friends in 5 minutes. But I had to prevent executing that. That knowledge taught me that everyone isn’t like me. Every person doesn’t consider like me, or have my back. So by way of that condition, I just started out to pay back much nearer consideration to men and women and their motives.
What sorts of conversations do you hope folks have immediately after looking at the movie? How do you see this film fitting into the society of social media?
Truthfully, the thread alone altered Twitter … It also birthed an complete era of “ho tales,” if that would make perception. I really feel like soon after the story, everybody then wished to tell their stories. I loved that snowball influence … Social media, with the way that it’s progressed, has opened a new lane and a new way of storytelling. I’m pleased to have helped with that.
I’d love to know extra about what you’re operating on ideal now. I know you have a YouTube channel, an OnlyFans page, and you’re making tunes. Did I depart everything out?
Which is about it. I just had a baby 4 months ago, so actually it’s been a waiting around video game. I’m generally writing, but like I said, I’m very patient with every little thing I do. I write all my songs myself, and so that’s definitely it. I have been writing and developing written content, and “mom-ing” it.
And waiting for this movie to come out. It was meant to come out last year, and COVID-19 switched everything up … I’ve definitely just been on pins and needles ready for this. You know what I signify? I just want to get the feedback from this, and see the place my coronary heart usually takes me from there.
So theoretically, if the film came out when it was intended to, your new boy or girl would not have been born nonetheless.
That’s true! It feels variety of like how it did at the starting of this entire issue. When I tweeted the story in 2015, I was pregnant with my first child. When all the things initial strike, I was bringing my child just about everywhere. It was just one particular of people matters to incorporate to the record. And now I experience like I’m again at that position. But I have the dangle of [motherhood] more now. It’s operating. It is do the job. Being a mother is my contacting, and currently being a writer is also my calling, so they have to both of those exist concurrently.
Your Instagram bio reads: “Mom initial. Ho promptly just after.” I like that. How has your OnlyFans transformed the way you work, and how you check out intercourse do the job as a entire?
When I started out out, I was dancing in man or woman. And then I slowly and gradually transitioned to staying a camgirl, so every thing I was performing was on the internet, way ahead of OnlyFans. This was many many years back. I have constantly been a lot more captivated to the internet. I desire that lane when it comes to sex do the job. I just sense like it is much easier for me. I do not have to appear into actual physical get in touch with with individuals to make them truly feel a thing, so I appreciated that. But OnlyFans took more than out of nowhere. At that issue, I observed there was a different lane for me to check out, and I just went for it. I’ve generally been self-confident and snug with my sexuality, so it was a no-brainer. I was expecting when I started OnlyFans, and to my surprise there is a really substantial demand for expecting porn. So I found a lane that I was fantastic at and went with it. And now I have a foundation of loyal followers who just remain around due to the fact they love me.
I want Black girls to know that they have agency above their voices and bodies, as very well as their tales.
What do you hope this movie will do to crack down misconceptions about intercourse function?
I really hope [viewers] get away that not all sexual intercourse get the job done is stemmed from trauma. Like, not all of us have had traumatic upbringings or been pressured into it. Sexual intercourse personnel are your day-to-day women up coming doorway … I want Black women to know that they have agency in excess of their voices and bodies, as nicely as their tales. I hope that the movie and the circumstance in common, from using some thing from Twitter to building it a film, and me currently being aspect of the process … I hope that evokes other women of all ages like me to tell their tales and fully grasp that they individual that. They have that appropriate, and they do not have to get “lost in the sauce,” as I say, or fade into the qualifications. They can stand up for their very own voices.
You are listed as an executive producer on Zola. Do you want to continue working in movie? What kind of assignments would you want to see get produced?
I would love to proceed doing the job in film. I’ve worked in sex do the job for about six a long time, so I have a lot of material and nuts figures I have come in contact with. I do love storytelling. It is how I course of action issues and transfer on from issues. And it just so transpires to be entertaining. So hopefully, you know, some thing comes about with that. That is what I’m excellent at by default. I didn’t even know I was very good at it I identified out by incident. So I feel I would like to maintain at it, totally.
I like to reside and walk in my reality. I can only discuss on what I’ve experienced. So much more initiatives primarily based on my working experience — not just intercourse do the job, but as a Black lady. Period of time. There desires to be much more tales instructed by Black creatives, so I would love to do extra of that.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.