Zendaya will no longer play Aaliyah in the Lifetime biopic about the late R&B singer. The 17-year-old Disney star backed out of the project and a rep confirmed that she is "no longer involved" with the film.
Zendaya was cast only two weeks ago and filming was scheduled to start this summer, with a fall release date. She was originally set to record four of Aaliyah's songs for the film. The biopic is tentatively titled "Aaliyah: Princess of R&B," and is set to trace Aaliyah's career from her debut on "Star Search" to her tragic death in 2001. She was killed in a plane crash at age 22.
The network's PR department released a statement on Twitter and said that production is "on hold."
We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold.
— LifetimePR (@LifetimeTV_PR) June 29, 2014
The late singer's family has been vocal about their opposition to the biopic and said that they would make it hard for Lifetime to use recordings. "Because we control the masters, the rights and some images of the musical elements that we put together like the videos, and photo shoots and things that we did, what we can just withhold those elements from the production which we would do," Aaliyah's cousin Jomo Hankerson told The Wrap. But he was clear that they didn't have a problem with Zendaya's casting, just the idea of a made-for-TV movie. “This needs A-list actors, A-list talent that can breathe life into what we think is a phenomenal story," Hankerson told the New York Daily News.