By now, you've all read Zola's engrossing, 150-tweet epic tale of stripping,
hooking trapping, prostitution and murder, set in—where else?—Florida. The timeline is eating it up, and while it's best to keep a sober mind on all of the pain and horror the story entails, one thing cannot be denied: Zola is one hell of a storyteller. Surely any Hollywood executive worth his shit is already figuring out how to license her tweets and the true story of Z's involvement in a trafficking ring and subsequent arrest into a screenplay ripe for a wide release film, an HBO TV movie, a Netflix movie or something. I already pegged Harmony Korine of Kids and Spring Breakers fame as the choice director. But now, let's cast it. Which actors would be perfect for the colorful characters in an adaptation for Zola's seedy story, which Pop Culture news editor Ian Servantes brilliantly titled Lost in the Sauce? I've got my top picks for all the principals below.
For Zola, the narrator, protagonist and audience stand-in: KeKe Palmer. It takes a special voice to make thousands of short attention-span readers sit through about 150 tweets. I don't know if Zola's taken any creative writing courses, but wow, the girl has a total command of tone, pace and voice. Everything from her phrasing and paraphrasing to the select caps-lock and emoji work is A1. You need an actress who can winningly convey that same voice and keep audiences enthralled on the screen. I can't picture anyone else who can toggle between Zola's cool-headed, casually bemused reactions, morally grey self-preservation and justifiable bursts of panic and indignation besides KeKe. Sure, Meagan Good has the look, but KeKe has the chops.
For the instigator turned reluctant sex worker: Anna Paquin. Jess is the lynchpin of this entire story but, at least the way Zola tells it, after serving up the inciting incident she becomes increasingly passive, or rather "lost in the game," and subsequently horrifically victimized. She needs to be portrayed by someone who has the skills to speak volumes, perhaps without many lines, but also someone charming and endearing enough to a) bamboozle poor Jarrett and b) convince Zola to embark on this misadventure-turned-nightmare off the strength of just one evening chatting at Hooters. I'm thinking Anna can pull off Jess's desperation and subservience to Z.
Aaron Paul has to play the bipolar simp turned victimized, lost in the sauce, lovelorn boyfriend. We've all seen Breaking Bad, yeah? As Jesse Pinkman, Aaron did the whole pained monologue, emotionally unstable, on the verge of suicide thing several times over five seasons. He's a layup for Jarrett.
For Z, the villainous pimp: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje OR Steve Harris. Here's the thing about Z: he needs to be played by someone who can be both mysterious and deceptively chill and also a horrifically intimidating man of ill repute. I've seen Idris Elba floating around but, no. We've seen him play menacing, sure, but he exudes a suave menace, not that of a sleazy pimp. You've seen Triple A in everything from his stint as a prison antagonist on Oz, to Lost (Mr. Eko), to the guy who killed 50 Cent's mom in Get Rich or Die Tryin, and various other villainous roles. He's the real shoe-in for Z. But also, for some reason my mind also drifted to Steve Harris. You may remember him from The Practice, or as Queen Latifah's no-good boyfriend in the bad movie classic Bringing Down the House. He's a wildly random choice for sure, but he's also got the duality within him to pull off Z, especially in the face-off with Dreads. Which brings us to...
Hi Wale. This is a glorified cameo as the local Florida skeezeball who kidnaps Jess, but it's also a major part, as Dreads' involvement is one of the story's craziest twists. Rappers love important cameos like this. I don't know but Wale seems perfect for this lmao no shade.
Grace Gealey, or, as she's commonly known every Wednesday on FOX, Boo Boo Kitty. She spent the majority of Empire season 1 portraying a luxury-accustomed, passive co-conspirator fiancée...not to typecast but, she fits Z's gun-toting main chick like a glove.
So there you go, Hollywood. If you need a consultant to be on-set during the climactic scene where Jarrett/Aaron Paul tries to jump off the balcony, I can try to move some things around in my schedule.