‘Zola’ as therapy for Taylour Paige
A conversation with Taylour Paige about “Zola” quickly resembles a therapy session. Or more precisely, a therapy session from someone who has been through it, questioned everything, learned a lot and is now somewhere on the other side and making the journey meaningful.
But on the other hand, that’s “Zola” – a film like no other, certainly for its leading actress Paige, whom he makes a star.
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“Zola” is on a long ride in Hollywood. Shot almost three years ago and Landing at Sundance in one fell swoop In January 2020 – before it was delayed due to the pandemic – the story went viral in 2015 when Aziah “Zola” Wells tweeted her weekend in Florida with a stripper she met while working at Hooters became, “Want to hear a story about why me and this bra fell out?” and eventually became the subject of a Rolling Stone article.
Paige, a 30-year-old native of Inglewood, Calif., Stepped into the equation in 2017 when her agent passed a script. When she read through it, it just didn’t suit her.
“Lo and behold, there were two white people who wrote it,” she says.
In the meantime her film “White Boy Rick” was coming out and she auditioned for the film “Hustlers” for the role that would later go to Constance Wu, which reminded her of the other stripper film she had read about. After asking her agent, she learned that it had since been reworked and had ended up in the hands of Janicza Bravo as director, who co-wrote the script with Jeremy O. Harris. Telling the story of a black woman from the direction of a black woman, says Paige, was “magic” from side one.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” she recalls. “That’s this st.”
Paige didn’t want to “call” the experience of portraying a stripper, and she was cast for the role at a time in her life when nothing seemed to be going right. She realized in herself the same circumstances Zola found herself in – the need to make money, the frustration that comes with fighting on your own. So she resorted to her dancer background and got a job in a strip club.
“It was all. I was hit on all sides. My car broke down and I slept on friends’ sofas. Being an artist is a windy, nomadic road. It’s pretty lonely. It’s not promised, ”says Paige. “I felt that the cops brought me closer to myself. I just felt like there was some availability that I would want to ask for my life to even play that. And while I’m not sure I can, Janicza has helped reveal something in me that is worth hearing, that could do so. That could have agency. That could finally be self-confident. That might finally get obsessed and just not be that confident and sexually confident. She made me feel that what I had to offer was sacred. “
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Paige was about to turn 28 when she made “Zola,” and remembers the time when her return to Saturn, a high-impact belief in astrology that was felt in the late twenties. Portraying a woman with the confidence and drive of Zola, not to mention getting close to the real Zola – a woman Paige says she “must have spent a few lives with” is their connection so strong – seems to have influenced the way Paige perceives himself in a way that is deeper than the usual big rupture.
“I often feel that work that finds me is something that I normally need to heal, and [at that time] I was sick of my old cops – t. I was tired of being mean to myself, hard on myself. I had all these odd jobs and felt really down and not sure if this dream was true [going to work]. I’ve questioned all of these things and ‘Zola’ just … I think the bigger picture I learned was that what’s meant for you doesn’t miss you. Everything is a sequence of unfolding and unfolding for you to remember, and when you remember, you are available for what is meant for you, ”says Paige. “I just give myself more grace and I am more at peace. I feel more valuable to myself. I feel all of these things. But I have a feeling that Zola opened up this path before a typical black woman in this world. And from this place, when everyone – the whole world – tells you who to be and what to be and what to not and what to work and to be a lady and whatever, she just lives it her way. And I really admire that. “
It’s been a long road for Paige, even at 30 – she’s done everything from working as a nanny to cleaning houses to working as a production assistant on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Since filming “Zola” she has appeared in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and is shooting the action comedy “The Toxic Avenger” with Kevin Bacon, Peter Dinklage and Elijah Wood in Bulgaria. The strange length of time between its creation by “Zola” and its release is in a way a blessing for Paige, who is more sure of herself and her direction than ever.
Ryan Pfluger / WWD
“I try not to get too caught up in the loop of external outcome because so much is happening. I just feel like I am learning by myself. I forgive myself, I forgive others. I forgive my mother. I forgive my father. I forgive my brother. I forgive ex-boyfriends. I’m just indecent when I remember, ”says Paige. “I remember who I am, knowing that I am enough alone in my being. I feel free to tell stories and not judge myself. I just have the feeling that I am now available for a nicer, purer life. “
She won’t have glamorous premiere parties for “Zola”. Instead, she will be filming for the next two months in Bulgaria, where she cannot have visitors due to COVID-19 restrictions – something she enjoys.
“I’m going to be spending a lot of time alone and I’m really excited about it and looking forward to it and … I feel connected to everything,” she says. “I can’t exaggerate how much I feel in no rush to get anywhere. I’m just trying to work on myself and improve and hopefully be an environment for what other people can do. If they are only good to themselves and others and do the work, I am only for driving and seeing. “
Ryan Pfluger / WWD
More out of sight:
Start gallery: Taylor Paige in the movie “Zola”
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