Zola stars Taylour Paige and Riley Keough are praising director Janicza Bravo for the "sisterhood" and "sense of protection" she gave the actors while filming the explicit biographical comedy-drama, which follows a stripper's wild trip to Florida.
Keough, who plays a cunning sex worker named Stefani, says there's a big difference in having a woman in the director's seat versus a man.
"I've been naked in almost every film I've done and I thought it was really interesting that this is the first movie that I'm not naked," Keough tells ABC Audio. "And that you don't see my boobs. And that was her choice. You see men naked, but you don't see the women naked."
"And with... her genius [and] protection combined, [it] was like just a very liberating experience as a woman to be able to play," she continues. "And there's not the male sort of gaze... on what we're doing. And it just made it really fun."
Keough believes it was Bravo's approach to directing, which the actor describes as "a wonderful experience," that allowed her "to do better work" in the film. Her co-star, Taylour Paige, who plays Aziah "Zola" King, agrees, noting that the value of having a woman behind the camera was "immeasurable."
"It's everything," Paige says. "It's the care and consideration, it's the empathy, it's the attention to detail. It's having a woman go, 'Leave some air on her bun, make sure there's room.' ...Making sure my skin matches my neck and like every little detail. Our nails, our clothes, making sure we're comfortable when we're having to change. And Janicza is just like beyond. She doesn't miss a beat."
Zola, also starring Colman Domingo, is now playing in theaters.