Zendaya Coleman has dropped out of Lifetime Network’s Aaliyah biopic a mere two weeks after announcing she’d play the role in Aaliyah: Princess of R&B.
Lifetime confirmed on Sunday via Twitter:
“We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold.”
A rep for Zendaya also confirmed to E! News:
“Zendaya is no longer involved in the project.”
At Sunday evening’s BET Awards, Zendaya told reporters “I felt like something with the production [wasn’t] all the way there, the project wasn’t all the way there … If I’m going to do something for someone I care about so much, I have to do it the right way.”
“I just felt that because I love her, and because I respected her so much as an artist, I don’t want to do anything that’s half or anything that’s less for her,” Coleman continued.
We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold.
— LifetimePR (@LifetimeTV_PR) June 29, 2014
According to sources, production issues with the movie included difficulty obtaining rights to Aaliyah’s music.
Zendaya was supposed to record four of Aaliyah’s songs for the film.
The movie script was to be based on former Time music editor Christopher Farley’s best-selling biography Aaliyah: More Than a Woman. It was set to follow the singer from her debut at age 10 on Star Search to her success in the music industry to her death in a plane crash in the Bahamas in 2001.
…if she is going to do it, she wants to do it right." pic.twitter.com/SSVYpA3SrK
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) June 29, 2014
The made-for-television movie was set to film over the summer and premiere on Lifetime in the fall.
From the onset, Aaliyah’s family was against the project. In fact, they hired attorneys to stop production, objecting in part to the portrayal of her life on the small versus big screen.
“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,” said her uncle and former manager Barry Hankerson in a statement on behalf of the family earlier this month.
— Aaliyah (@AaliyahHaughton) June 21, 2014
“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!”
Zendaya, who rose to fame as Rocky Blue opposite Bella Thorne on Disney’s hit series Shake it Up! from 2010 to 2013, says she’s still open to playing Aaliyah at some point in the future:
“By all means, when the right project comes along, and it’s done the right way, I’ll be the first person ready to play Aaliyah.”
Image via Instagram, Zendaya