It looks as though this Aaliyah biopic is going to get made whether people like it or not!
After actress Zendaya Coleman surprisingly dropped out of the movie last month due to production issues, Lifetime has finally found her replacement -- actress Alexandra Shipp. Although she isn't a huge name yet, the 23-year old Phoenix native has appeared on a small number of Nick shows including House of Anubis, and is the star of VH1's "Drumline" sequel coming this fall. Talk show queen Wendy Williams has also stepped in as the executive producer of the biopic!
Alexandra is also biracial, and more than likely already prepared for the "she's not Black enough" backlash that Zendaya endured from Aaliyah fans before dropping out of the film.
Back in April, she posted a photo with her mom on Twitter with the caption:
Meanwhile, the biggest surprise, is Wendy Williams joining the movie as its executive producer.
Wendy has been a fan of both the movie idea and Zendaya playing the songbird from jump. However, when Zendaya dropped out, Wendy went in on Aaliyah fans for forcing Z to "chicken out." She said during a segment on her show:
I’ve been rallying around about this Lifetime movie about Aaliyah. Telling the family stop complaining, it’s going to be on the small screen, small screen is the business. Very few people go to the movies anymore, you know what I mean? It’s expensive and the popcorn is no good for you. Well so, Zendaya apparently heard that I’ve been rallying around her and she sent me a little thing through the computer saying “Thank you Mrs. Wendy for you supporting me and that just happened on Friday. Well dog gone it, do you know that now on Monday that we found out that Zendaya has pulled out of the movie?”
That’s your fault! You! And whoever said she was too light to play Aaliyah, that’s your fault. You got on this girl’s back and now she’s chickened out. I can’t believe were still dealing with light/dark in 2014; it’s about the spirit of the movie. I thought that she would be a great Aaliyah because I don’t know enough about Zendaya so she wouldn’t be distracting me.
She also said she wanted a little-known actress to play the role and not someone huge like "Rihanna."
Like a lot of you thought that Rihanna should play Aaliyah. No, because I’m so distracted by Rihanna and everything does. When watching a movie like the Aaliyah movie, I really don’t want to know who the actress is playing it, I just want to watch it. Zendaya, it doesn’t mean that I don’t know you. I know you were on Dancing With The Stars, but I never root for the Disney kids. I just kind of glaze over you all because I always feel like you have training and what not.
She also added:
The production has been put on hold. Well, they have to find a new Aaliyah, plus you know the family of Aaliyah will not let the movie play the music. Something tells me that this movie is not going to get made. Well I hope you’re happy Aaliyah’s family because Aaliyah was a beautiful, talented girl and there’s a whole new generation of people that might of have gotten turned onto Aaliyah to her past music, you know the music she has out and now nobody’s going to see it. Unless they can find an Aaliyah that’s apparently dark enough to suit you all and maybe the people can get the family to play the music.
Now that Wendy has stepped in to help get this film made, can she secure Aaliyah's recordings? Last we checked, the family was still giving that a big, fat "Nope!" The only way Lifetime can get the music is if they get the publishing rights and have someone re-record Aaliyah's songs.
If they aren't careful, this movie could definitely get messy. On top of wanting a newbie to play the role, Wendy has also stated that the movie should feature Aaliyah's relationship with R. Kelly. [Aaliyah's family definitely won't be happy about that!]
As for Alexandra, she seems to have Aaliyah down pat.
Production will start in a few weeks and the biopic will premiere in the fall on schedule according to Lifetime.