That was fast! It appears that Disney’s Zendaya Coleman is no longer playing Aaliyah in the Lifetime biopic. While the 17-year-old Coleman was very confident in speaking out against criticism from fans and critics, the Disney star is no longer playing the late 21-year-old R&B artist.
The PR company behind the Lifetime Aaliyah vehicle confirmed the news that Zendaya was not attached to the project and that production is stalled because of it.
We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold.
— LifetimePR (@LifetimeTV_PR) June 29, 2014
Before production was halted it was rumored that Zendaya would be dropped from the project and might be replaced with Rihanna. As we previously reported, MediaTakeOut said that the backlash was so huge that the network was thinking about shutting down production or replacing her with a bigger star. According to one source, “Right now they’re negotiating with Rihanna to play Aaliyah. And [Rihanna’s] interested.”
The backlash focused on Zendaya being too young to portray Aaliyah, with not enough experience to take on the heavy material, which was supposed to touch on the singer’s controversial relationship with R. Kelly.
If fan backlash wasn’t enough pressure for Zendaya to deal with, Aaliyah’s family members came forward to speak out against the production. It should be noted that the family didn’t seem to be against Zendaya’s inclusion, but more or less was disappointed with the Lifetime brand.
Jomo Hankerson, Aaliyah’s cousin and president of Blackground records, told the New York Daily News that this type of release wasn’t what the family wanted for an Aaliyah biopic.
“We want a major studio release along the lines of ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It,’ the Tina Turner movie. This needs A-list actors, A-list talent that can breathe life into what we think is a phenomenal story.”
Hankerson was very adamant in explaining just why the family wasn’t in support of this particular biopic.
“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.”
While it hasn’t been discussed why the Disney star exited the project, if it wasn’t a direct decision made by Lifetime, we’re sure the lack of support from Aaliyah’s estate probably prompted the star to ditch the project.
Prior to taking on the Aaliyah project, Zendaya was known for her role on the Disney series Shake It Up. Additionally she was also a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.
[Image via Bing]