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Zendaya speaks out about playing Aaliyah in Lifetime movie

Zendaya (pictured at left) and Aaliyah (pictured at right)
Zendaya (pictured at left) and Aaliyah (pictured at right)
Photo at left: WireImage. Photo at right: FilmMagic.

Zendaya is speaking out about playing the late singer/actress Aaliyah in a Lifetime movie that has the working title "Aaliyah: Princess of R&B," which will be filmed in the summer of 2014 and premiere sometime in the autumn of 2014 on a date to be announced. Lifetime made the announcement about the movie on June 16, 2014.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Zendaya (who is 17) had this to say about taking on the role of Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in 2001 at the age of 22: "I really want it to be perfect for her and show young people what she was able to do and what she accomplished. I can't please everybody ... what I can do is work really hard and you know, just continue to show her legacy. I feel like she grew up so young and she grew up in the industry ... and she just had to deal with so much. I connect with that."

For the Lifetime movie, Zendaya will re-record some of Aaliyah's songs. The movie is based on the book "Aaliyah: More Than a Woman" by Christopher Farley. "Aaliyah: Princess of R&B" will be produced by Aaliyah Productions, Inc. Howard Braunstein and Debra Martin Chase will serve as executive producers. Bradley Walsh will direct from a script written by Michael Elliot.

There is no word yet on which actors have been cast as two of the loves in Aaliyah's life: R. Kelly (who married Aaliyah when she was 15; the marriage was later annulled) and Damon Dash, who was her boyfriend at the time of her death.

Zendaya (whose last name is Coleman) rose to fame as a star of the Disney Channel series "Shake It Up!" She stars in two more Disney Channel projects: the series "K.C. Undercover" and the movie "Zapped. She starred as Raquel “Rocky” Blue on the hit D, as well as Shake It Up: Made In Japan, the record breaking song and dance–filled special that featured her single and video “Fashion is My Kryptonite.” Zendaya came in second place on Season 16 of "Dancing with the Stars." Zendaya's self-titled first album (which was released in 2013) includes the single "Replay."

Aaliyah (whose last name was Haughton) was one of the more successful female R&B singers of the late '90s/early 2000s. Her hits included "Back and Forth" and "Are You That Somebody?" She also had a promising acting career in movies, with starring roles in 2000's "Romeo Must Die" and 2002's "Queen of the Damned."

June 29, 2014 update: Zendaya has exited Lifetime's Aaliyah movie. Click here for more details.

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