“Zola” Author A’Ziah King Criticizes A24’s Awards Season Strategy

She has a good point

"Zola" cast and crew
Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, A'Ziah King, Janicza Bravo and Colman Domingo of 'Zola' attend the IMDb Studio at Acura Festival Village on location at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
Getty Images for IMDb

In the last decade, A24 has established itself as a go-to studio for thoughtful, artistically challenging films that also appeal to a wider audience. That often comes up in terms of the distributor’s work in the horror genre, but it’s far from confined to that — and the critical and commercial success of Zola last summer are further evidence of that.

But there’s one high-profile figure who’s not so happy with the way A24 is navigating awards season — A’Ziah King, whose viral Twitter thread was the source material from which the film arose.

As Variety reports, King took to Twitter to criticize the studio for not including her in more awards-related events, or for including her in consideration for awards. The screenplay is credited to Janicza Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris, with the credited source material being King’s original thread and David Kushner’s subsequent article for Rolling Stone; both King and Kushner have executive producer credits as well.

King got more specific on Instagram on Sunday. “Let’s be clear. My beef is with A24 and A24 only,” she wrote. “They are full of shit. Not my peers, not the award shows, not the writers, not the director. Not the actors.” Several of the filmmakers involved also spoke out in support of her, including Bravo and Harris.

King’s frustration with A24 adds a dissonant note to the film’s seven Independent Spirit Award nominations.

There’s also a pragmatic aspect to this. Namely: King literally made her name by deftly dismantling the people who did her wrong on social media, i.e. in the initial “Zola” thread. If you already had a good working relationship with King — which, one assumes, A24 did at some point — why would you risk that? Alienating the author of the work on which you based your acclaimed film is rarely a wise decision, whether it’s a sprawling novel or an immersive Twitter thread.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.