Zendaya Coleman may no longer be playing the role of Aaliyah in Lifetime’s controversial biopic centered on the late singer, but it wasn’t because of the backlash she received once the announcement was made that she was cast. Instead, her decision was more morally based.
It’s been almost a month since Zendaya formally stepped down from the role, but for the first time, the Disney Channel star is choosing to explain in her own words what made her change her mind. It’s time to let the rumors die: It was no one’s decision but her own.
“The main reasons were the production value wasn’t there, there were complications with the music rights, and I just felt like it wasn’t being handled delicately considering the situation,” Zendaya explained in a series of Instagram videos posted on July 18. “I tried my best to reach out to the family on my own and I wrote a letter, but I was unable to do so. Therefore, I felt not really morally okay with moving forward with the project.”
It’s not a surprise that Aaliyah’s family has been uncooperative with the making of the film. Reportedly, they planned to block it from happening by any means necessary, and don’t plan on allowing Lifetime to use any of Aaliyah’s music — a plan which, so far, sounds like it’s working.
And if you were looking forward to the movie, never fear — it’s totally still happening. Instead, Alexandra Shipp will be playing the title role, and Zendaya wishes her nothing but the best.
“Congratulations to the new woman playing Aaliyah,” Zendaya said. “I only hope that she does not have to deal with half the hate that I had to deal with. Remember that we are all human beings trying to do what we love to do. Let’s practice motivation and love, not discrimination and hate.”