Zola, the first feature film made from a viral Twitter thread, is out now in theaters. When the Twitter thread first dropped in October 2015, it was clear that the story was about to take a life of its own. The action-packed movie was released on June 30 and the six-year process of taking it from Twitter to the big screen has been a whirlwind. The saga kicked off when a woman named A’Ziah “Zola” King shared the 148-tweet story of a messy adventure she went on to Florida after meeting a customer at Hooters named Jessica Swiatkowski (who was renamed Stefani in the film). The thread was riveting and packed with so much drama that it caught the attention of millions of Twitter users who retweeted and followed the story tweet by tweet. It received such a huge reaction, it became a global trending topic.
It wasn’t long before journalists took notice of the reactions the saga was getting online, and a Rolling Stone article featuring interviews with the people involved in the tale also got Hollywood’s attention. The article was then adapted into a screenplay and production for the film began quickly after. Similar to the thread, the film follows Hooters waitress Zola (Taylour Paige) after she befriends a customer named Stefani (Riley Keough), and they go on a trip to Tampa so they can strip together. The adventure quickly turns from a fun girls’ trip into complete chaos, filled with murder, prostitution, and absolute madness. Writer and director Janicza Bravo was tasked with the responsibility of taking the exciting viral thread from Twitter to the big screen. [Ed note: Bravo co-wrote the Zola screenplay with Jeremy O. Harris, of Slave Play fame.]
Take this look at how Zola went from a hilarious Twitter story about a weekend filled with debauchery to one of the year’s most anticipated films.