Zendaya exits Aaliyah Lifetime movie amid controversy
Well, that didn't last long.
Zendaya, best known for her role in the Disney Channel series "Shake It Up" and a stint on Season 16 of "Dancing with the Stars," has exited Lifetime's planned biopic on the late R&B star Aaliyah after news of her casting became the subject of criticism.
"Zendaya is no longer involved in the project," a rep for the actress told E! News on Sunday. Another source pegged "production issues" and problems securing the rights to Aaliyah's music as the reason behind her departure.
"Aaliyah has always been an inspiration to Zendaya," said the unnamed source. "She was honored to portray her and pay tribute to her. If she is going to do it, she wants to do it right."
A statement released last week on behalf of Aaliyah's family lambasted the project:
"Aaliyah was more than a singer, she was -and is still – an American music icon whose legacy continues to live on and influence today’s music culture, just as Ray Charles, Notorious B.I.G., Selena and Johnny Cash.
Considering the magnitude of her fans’ affection alone, she deserves to have a tribute much more grand than a television network debut that won’t even consider the perspectives of those who were closest to Aaliyah.
Disregarding the families and dishonoring the legacies of celebrated figures who have passed on, big networks want to exploit their stories for a buck. We’re here to make it clear that it’s not okay!
Lifetime Television is trying to dictate the status of our heroes, our heroines and – in this case – our beloved Aaliyah. We implore everyone to call Lifetime Television, send emails and bombard social media so they know we demand respect for our cultural icons.
We will not sit idly by while they misrepresent and reap profits from our luminaries. There is more at stake than the public could imagine."
Tentatively titled "Aaliyah: Princess of R&B" and based on the 2001 memoir "Aaliyah: More Than a Woman" by Christopher John Farley, the film was set to begin production in the summer and air in the fall. It was to chart the singer's rise from "Star Search" contestant at age 10 to international superstar and budding actress by her late teens, before her life was tragically cut short in a plane crash at the age of 22.
What do you think of Zendaya's exit from the Aaliyah biopic? Let us know by voting in the poll below.