Former Disney channel’s “Shake it Up” star Zendaya (pictured right) has reportedly bowed out of the lead role of the much-anticipated Lifetime channel’s biopic about the life of the late-young songstress Aaliyah (pictured left), according to MTV News.
Lifetime tweeted the news out on Sunday that the 17-year-old multi-talented performer’s would no longer be involved in the film, stating:
We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold.
In response to the news of her no longer being involved in the Aaliyah project, Zendaya, who is half-Black and half-White also tweeted on her Twitter site:
“Aaliyah has always been a source of 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.“
Zendaya, who attended the BET Awards on Sunday evening, also told MTV News on the red carpet, “I just felt the project wasn’t 100 percent there. I feel [that] production wise everything just felt a little rushed.”
All systems seemed ready to go as the publicity over the film’s production had become media fodder for months. Production was scheduled to begin this summer, and the network hoped for a fall release. Aaliyah’s family, however, vocalized their disapproval over the young singer’s life being told on the small screen instead of the large screen.
Zendaya was set to portray the R&B singer whose life came to a tragic end some 13 years ago when at age 22, when she was killed in a plane crash. The TV movie was going to be based off the bestselling book, “Aaliyah: More Than A Woman” by Christopher Farley.
Reportedly, Aaliyah’s uncle and former manager Barry Hankerson, who is reportedly the family’s mouthpiece, told TMZ they were all upset by the fact that no one from the cable channel even bothered to contact them when the project was greenlighted. Hankerson, who also mentioned the family had hired an attorney, told the celeb site they would also not grant permission to use of Aaliyah’s music in the film and would, to the best of their efforts, block the release of the film as well.
Zendaya, who last year at age 16 became the youngest member to be cast on the wildly popular ABC-TV show, “Dancing With the Stars” as the runner-up, was reportedly ecstatic about portraying Aaliyah. When she received news of landing the role, she took to Twitter to express her joy:
“She’s been an inspiration and influence in my whole career, her talent still shines brighter than ever, all I wanna do is honor her,” she wrote on June 16. “Show how much she accomplished in only 22 years….she’s beautiful inside and there will never be another Aaliyah, I just hope to share her beautiful story, and make her proud up in heaven #babygirl #forever #OneInAMillion.”