Dear James Franco: Why Not Let Zola Tell Her Own Story?

James Franco is the king of diving into projects headfirst without taking time to truly breathe or weigh the pros and cons, and this has made his career both prolific and by my personal account, terrifying. Whether it’s his poetry book titled Straight James/Gay James, his extremely unnecessary remake of Mother, May I Sleep With Danger, or a video of James Franco dressed as Walter White banging James Franco dressed as Carrie Bradshaw, Franco has shown he fears nothing and will try anything.

So it’s no surprise that he jumped on the story of  Zola Story, a 148-tweet narrative that went viral after Aziah “Zola” Wells posted a stripper saga detailing a weekend in Florida that enthralled readers all across the internet. Franco plans to adapt the Twitter story itself with Zola’s November interview with Rolling Stone, in which she laid out which parts of the story were accurate and which were exaggerated.  James Franco plans to name the project Zola Tells All, and yet, Zola herself isn’t slated to be involved with the project – so far.

It’s hard to think of a more obvious example of erasure than literally lifting a woman’s story for your project, naming the project Zola Tells All, then proceeding to collaborate on the script with a handful of other white men. Does Franco truly not realize how tacky and disrespectful this is? (Does he truly not realize how tacky almost everything he does is?) I’d like to be wrong, to find out in coming weeks that they’re actively reaching out to her for permission, that she is being included in the writing process on some level or garnering some financial gain from the endeavor, but frankly, I’m not holding my breath.

This could be a greatly beneficial opportunity for all parties if Zola herself had creative control in the project. Why not have her sit at the helm of her own story and not have it swiped by an opportunist Hollywood bro?