Yesterday, Lifetime network confirmed the big news of the day — Disney star Zendaya Coleman is set to star as singer Aaliyah in their upcoming biopic, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B. Most fans were shocked; months of speculation led many to believe BET 106 & Park host Keshia Chante would star as the R&B singer in a rumored VH1 flick. But while a few fans got over the confusion and accepted Zendaya as Aaliyah, others were deeply affected by it — so much so that they launched a petition to halt the movie.
According to the petition, the fans concerns aren’t so much with Zendaya playing the part, but more that Aaliyah’s family have vehemently spoken against a biopic in the past and possibly have no say in the film whatsoever.
“It's wrong that Aaliyah's mother or brother didn't have a say so in this movie that is being made. The fans didn't get a say so and neither did any of Aaliyah's friends. As her fans, we're going to do anything in our power to stop this movie,” adding that the movie “beyond disrespectful.” The petition asks for true fans to “respect her mother and her brothers wishes,” and put a stop to the film. It’s been signed by more than 500 hundred fans who agree.
However, the casting director for the movie, Twinkie Byrd, was not having anyone diminish the news of the movie — or Zendaya’s casting for the part. Twinkie exclusively told TheYBF:
“Zendaya embodies everything you want in a [sic] actress to play Aaliyah. She is a poised, professional, STRONG actress (studied at California Shakespeare Theater and American Conservatory Theater). A triple threat actor, singer dancer. She LOVES AALIYAH and will do a wonderful job! She is of mixed ethnicity. Her name is Bantu (Zimbabwe) meaning ‘To Give Thanks’. Let’s not hate on it but congratulate! She is a GREAT CHOICE!”
Furthermore, Zendaya took to Twitter to dish on her own feelings about being a part of the project:
“She's been an inspiration and influence in my whole career, her talent still shines brighter then [sic] ever, all I wanna do is honor her, Show how much she accomplished in only 22 years....she's beautiful inside and there will never be another Aaliyah, I just hope to share her beautiful story, and make her proud up in heaven #babygirl #forever #OneInAMillion.” Zendaya tweeted, adding, “I'm just a 17year old girl who got cast to play one of her biggest inspirations #positive.”
Aaliyah: Princess of R&B will begin filming this summer in Canada, and air in the fall.
Do you agree Lifetime should halt the movie? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!