When it comes to body language, perhaps no one knows it better than dancer turned actress Taylour Paige. The star of the new Twitter-inspired film Zola traded her footwork for the pole-work in the portrayal of her titular character. And much like with the film's viral 148-tweet source material, Taylour is the talk of the town and absolutely sizzles in her on-screen performance, on and off the pole. The end result? Taylour was able to tap into a freedom she didn't know she needed.
The 30-year-old took the acting world by storm when she came onto the scene via her breakout role in the hit series Hit the Floor. But what some may not know is that Taylour's lead role in the show wasn't a far cry from her own reality. While the actress might have been portraying Los Angeles Devils girl Ahsha Hayes on-screen, she was a former Los Angeles Lakers girl in real life.
Zola, however, is quite the departure from her goody-two-shoes image as doe-eyed Ahsha. Much like the Twitter "hoeism" thread it was based on, the A24 production follows Zola (portrayed by Taylour) and Stefani (portrayed by Riley Keough) as they journey to Florida to make money dancing and the crazy ride that ensues as their time together unfolds. The dramedy is a chaotic blend of suspense, thongs, and intrigue.
When trading in her dancing shoes for stilettos, Taylour admitted wearing Zola's shoes required more of her than any character has before. She told The Wrap:
"I'm a dancer, but I worked at the strip club for four weeks. I think all my life experiences prepared me for the role. I didn't want to look like an actor trying to dance, I didn't want to look like a dancer trying to strip, I wanted to look like this person in the given circumstances who works at a restaurant and also dances."
During her time researching her role, Taylor also connected with the real-life Zola, A'Ziah-Monae King, who also helped her add color and texture to her portrayal on-screen.
"We just talked a lot and I got to know her voice and her spirit. She's just so funny and quick and smart. Her use of punctuation, like everything about her … she's on some other s–t."
That friendship, preparation, and overall starring role in the indie film has changed Taylour forever. Stepping into the shoes and the skin of someone else helped her shed a layer of herself she didn't know she needed to lose.
"[The role gave me] freedom to be a woman and love my body and my sexuality, and not being also self-conscious or such a perfectionist. Just giving myself grace to figure it out as I go and be as present and honest as I can with the dialogue … it just marked a really, really, really pivotal change in my life."
Zola is out now in theatres.
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