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A’Ziah “Zola” King said the filmmakers behind “Zola” “intentionally” had Taylour Paige show more skin than her white co-star during the film adaptation of her now-viral “hoe trip” to Florida for a reason.
Paige (Zola) and Riley Keough (Stefani) play strippers in “Zola,” out now. The film is based on King’s viral 2015 148-tweet thread recounting a trip she took to Florida with a girl she met while waitressing at Hooters.
Even though both Zola and Stefani are seen pole-dancing throughout the film, the camera follows Zola’s half-naked body more closely than Stefani’s. In one scene, when the two women were using the bathroom the discrepancy on how the two actors were treated is more obvious — Paige’s bare butt is shown, while Keough’s is covered.
When asked about this difference in how the movie portrays the two women’s bodies, King told Insider that it comes down to “the race issue of the story because obviously there is one.”
“It’s just trying to say, Black women have to kind of try a little harder, even on stage,” King told Insider in early June while promoting the movie. “You gotta do a little harder. You have to show a little more. You have to really work at it.”
King, who’s an executive producer on the film, also pointed out that Zola and Stefani make “just the same amount of money” in Florida strip clubs in the movie, even though Zola makes more of an effort pole-dancing while Stefani “just does her cute little thing.”
Director Janicza Bravo previously told The New York Times in a June interview that she had decided early in the process of making “Zola” that the film would have no female nudity, even in the scenes where Stefani is seen engaging in sex work. Instead, viewers see a montage of naked men soliciting sex from Stefani.
“What does a woman see when she’s on the receiving end of contract sex?” Bravo told The Times. “She’s looking at their eyes, chest, gut, d—. And that’s what I wanted to see.”
Paige said it was ‘really hard’ to learn how to pole-dance
Paige admitted that learning how to pole dance, even though she’s a trained dancer was hard.
In a separate interview, the actress told Insider that she was like “Bambi on ice” when she first took to the pole to prepare for her role in “Zola.”
“Obviously, technical dancing is so much different than someone who works at a restaurant as a stripper,” Paige said.
To get into character, Paige told Insider she worked “undercover” at a strip club in Los Angeles to learn more about pole-dancing and working as a stripper.
“I got close with some of the girls and would ask questions but was very much undercover,” Paige said about her month-long experience.
“I didn’t want to phone it in and didn’t want to look like an actor [or] didn’t want to look like a dancer trying to strip,” she continued. “I just wanted to full-on learn and respect and honor this culture — these women.”
“Zola,” also starring Colman Domingo, Nicholas Braun and TS Madison, is in theaters now.