The movie at Sundance that everyone can’t stop talking about involves Hooters, a pimp, a kidnapping, and an epic road trip. But what’s even wilder is that Zola isn’t just a movie, but based on a (maybe?) true series of events and one unbelievable Twitter thread.
It all started back in October 2015, when a Detroit woman named Aziah “Zola” Wells tweeted about a weekend road trip to Florida she had taken with a woman she met while waitressing at a Hooters and barely knew.
Wells recalled the journey in a 148-tweet tale dubbed #TheStory that garnered the attention of Missy Elliot, Solange, Keke Palmer, and even acclaimed director Ava DuVernay, thanks to its wild drama and suspense.
While there’s been a lot of question marks around the details of Wells’s story, the gist is that she met a white woman named Jessica Rae Swiatkowski back in March 2015 when Swiatkowski came in for lunch. The two quickly developed a rapport and exchanged numbers.
A few days later, Swiatkowski asked Wells if she wanted to road trip down to Florida. Wells and Swiatkowski were both exotic dancers and Swiatkowski had heard she could make more money down in Florida. Wells agreed, and soon found herself in the car with Swiatkowski and two other men — one was Swiatkowski’s boyfriend, Jarrett Scott, the other her friend Rudy.
From there the details get shaky with Wells admitting she embellished parts, including Scott’s suicide attempt and a shooting, according to Rolling Stone. Swiatkowski also insisted that she has never prostituted herself, despite claims from Wells that the trip included this.
Nonetheless, Hollywood ate the story up.
But is it a fact? Or purely fiction? Unfortunately, the world may never know about all the details, but it’s sure to be one hell of a cinematic experience.