Zendaya Coleman will no longer play Aaliyah in the upcoming Lifetime biopic.
It was announced late Sunday that the 17-year-old was no longer part of the project.
The Disney star had been excited about the movie, tweeting that the late singer was one of her idols. The movie was tentatively titled Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, based on Time Magazine music editor Christopher Farley’s best-selling biography, Aaliyah: More Than a Woman. It would have covered her debut on Star Search to her relationship with R. Kelly to her passing.
The movie was scheduled to film this summer and air this fall.
However, the project received a lot of criticism. Aaliyah’s family wanted the project to be a big motion picture, rather than a smaller budget Lifetime movie. Also, there was fan criticism that Zendaya was “not dark skinned enough” to play Aaliyah.
After being confirmed in the part June 16, on June 29 she exited the production. A rep told E! News that “Zendaya is no longer involved in the project.”
There were several issues, due to the family’s lack of support, that meant “there were production issues, including problems obtaining the rights to Aaliyah’s music,” claims a source. Adding, “Aaliyah has always been an inspiration to Zendaya. She was honored to portray her and pay tribute to her. If she is going to do it, she wants to do it right.”
“Because we control the masters, the rights and some images of the musical elements that we put together like the videos, and photo shoots and things that we did, what we can just withhold those elements from the production which we would do,” Aaliyah’s cousin, Jomo Hankerson, told The Wrap.
“This needs A-list actors, A-list talent that can breathe life into what we think is a phenomenal story,” Hankerson told the New York Daily News. Adding, “It’s never been about the actress. The problem that we have is that Aaliyah was an icon and she deserves an iconic tribute, not a Lifetime movie.”
Lifetime Television released a statement on Twitter, saying, “We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold.”
We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold.
— LifetimePR (@LifetimeTV_PR) June 29, 2014
Zendaya added, “my Zswaggers are the BEST! Thank you for your undying support thru everything!”
my Zswaggers are the BEST! Thank you for your undying support thru everything! Zendaya (@Zendaya) June 29, 2014