The default serial speed on the ESP8266 WiFi chip is 115200 baud. If you connect this chip to an Arduino and want to use SoftSerial to talk to it, it will not work. The SoftSerial library is limited to 9600 baud because of hardware limitations of the Arduino. If you want to talk to the ESP8266 with an Arduino at lower speeds, you need to tell the ESP8266 to slow down.
I went through all the struggles everybody else seems to be going through to get this screen connected to my Arduino Nano. I had the 5V to 3.3V voltage conversion problem, and the “only works with software interrupts” problem which makes the display run slow. The solutions are not complicated but not very wel documented. Until now.