Disney actress Zendaya, who was originally set to play the deceased singer, has bowed out of the running as the lead role of the TV film. The family is still pushing back in terms of Aaliyah’s music, but it looks like the Aaliyah: Princess of R&B Lifetime biopic has found new life. Aside from TV Personality Wendy Williams signing on as executive producer of the movie, and with the help of Debra Chase, they have now cast a new lead in the form of Alexandra Shipp.
Shipp has also starred in Nickelodeon’s House of Anubis, Showtime’s Ray Donovan and ABC’s Switched at Birth.
Zendaya posted a message on Instagram for fans, clearing up any rumors of why she may have backed out of the project:
“The main reasons were the production value wasn’t there. There were complications with the music rights and I just felt like it wasn’t being handled delicately considering the situation. I tried my best to reach out to the family on my own and I wrote a letter, but I was unable to do so. Therefore I felt not really morally okay with moving forward with the project.”
“With all that being said, congratulations to the new woman playing Aaliyah. I only hope that she does not have to deal with half the hate that I had to deal with. And remember that we are all human beings trying to do what we love to do. Let’s practice motivation and love, not discrimination and hate.“