Zendaya Coleman is out of the biopic about late singer Aaliyah, and there are reports that she could be replaced by fellow one-name singer Rihanna.
There were rumors for several days that Coleman would be dropped from the Lifetime television movie, and this weekend the reports were confirmed. Zendaya Coleman released a statements saying that a television movie would not be an appropriate tribute Aaliyah, who died in 2001 in a plane crash.
“I just felt the project wasn’t 100 percent there,” Zendaya told MTV. “I feel [that] production wise everything just felt a little rushed. And I think because she’s someone I admire and I love so much, it can’t be done halfway, or not to the standards I think it should be done at, so I just decided not to do it.”
Even before Zendaya Coleman had been dropped, there were rumors that the network was preparing to substitute singer Rihanna to play the role. Coleman had been a controversial choice, with critics attacking both her relative inexperience and her light skin, which made her a somewhat odd choice to play the darker-skinned Aaliyah.
Zendaya herself addressed the controversy, saying skin color shouldn’t matter.
“A lot of people say I’m not black enough. Half black is just enough,” Zendaya told a Splash News reporter. “It doesn’t matter what color you are, it’s about how you portray the character. For those that don’t know, Angela Bassett and Tina Turner, they look nothing alike but she was that character so I think that’s what it’s all about.”
“The [Zendaya] backlash is huge,” the source said. “Either the network is going to have to replace her, or shut down production. Right now they’re negotiating with Rihanna to play Aaliyah. And [Rihanna’s] interested.”
But others say the rumor that Rihanna is replacing Zendaya Coleman in the Aaliyah biopic is just that — a rumor. A rep for Lifetime denied the report to HipHollywood.