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Zendaya: Young actress leaves Lifetime biopic about Aaliyah

Zendaya was going to play Aaliyah, but has since bowed out.
Photo by Michael Buckner

A biopic was being planned on by Lifetime the life of the late singer Aaliyah, and it even had its leading lady, but not anymore. Variety reported on June 29, 2014, that Zendaya Coleman (better known as just Zendaya) has left the biopic that will be titled "Aaliyah: Princess of R&B."

On Sunday afternoon, public relations for Lifetime tweeted:

"We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold."

This is a shocking change after the announcement of the project just earlier this month. The 17-year-old Disney Channel star was set to portray Aaliyah in the film, and production was actually scheduled to begind this summer for a fall release.

It was expected that "Aaliyah: Princess of R&B" could end up being pushed back due to family and friends speaking out against the Lifetime biopic. Jomo Hankerson, Aaliyah's cousin and president of Blackground Records, said they were looking for a bigger release than what Lifetime could provide.

“We want a major studio release along the lines of ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It,’ the Tina Turner movie,” Hankerson said. “This needs A-list actors, A-list talent that can breathe life into what we think is a phenomenal story.”

Hankerson has said that the problems the family had with the movie had nothing to do with Zendaya's casting. He said that Aaliyah was "an icon and she deserves an iconic tribute, not a Lifetime movie."

With Zendaya departing the project, there is no word as to who could possibly step into her place as Aaliyah. It isn't even certain that the Aaliyah biopic will continue forward as a project for Lifetime and there's no notice of when production and release may happen.

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