TV execs at Lifetime must have Aaliyah’s “We Need a Resolution” playing on repeat. With Zendaya having dropped out of the lead role in the network’s biopic about the late songbird, the question of who (if anyone) would pick up the part lingered. Now, another actress is poised to don the ’90s star’s cropped tanks and baggy jeans. But will the Internet bless this pick?
Alexandra Shipp, a curly-tressed Nickelodean star who’s guested on “Switched at Birth” and MTV’s “.Awkward,” nabbed the role vacated by Disney alum Zendaya, according to The Hollywood Reporter . In addition to the casting change, talk-show queen Wendy Williams has signed on as an executive producer, confirming in a tweet on Friday (July 18) that production on “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B” begins in late-July.
If “House of Anubis” star Shipp has the chops to play the singer, who was affectionately known in the industry as Baby Girl, that still may not prepare her for the mighty shade social media can (and did) toss at this controversial project. Fans loudly criticized Zendaya’s casting, citing everything from her light complexion to her looks to other singers they thought could better handle Aaliyah’s catalog (Keshia Chante and G.O.O.D. Music’s Teyana Taylor came up).
Not to mention that the Haughton family, determined to preserve their loved one’s legacy, made it clear that they hadn’t co-signed the film at that time.
— Wendy Williams (@WendyWilliams) July 18, 2014
“Fans we hear your comments and concerns !! unfortunately we cannot confirm the family is behind the project at this time,” the family wrote in a statement back in June, following news of Zenday’s casting. “However ,we do ask that you are respectful to the artist playing the role, for they may not fully have or know the details about this role And her family’s involvement #teamaaliyah.” At press time, they had yet to comment from their official Twitter page.
For her part, Zendaya told MTV News on the BET Awards red carpet in June that she “just felt the project wasn’t 100 percent there. I feel [that] production wise everything just felt a little rushed.” And while she didn’t rule out playing Aaliyah down the road, she added, “I think because she’s someone I admire and I love so much, it can’t be done halfway, or not to the standards I think it should be done at, so I just decided not to do it.”
Multiplatinum star Aaliyah was only 22 when she died in a plane crash 13 years ago, after leaving a video shoot in the Bahamas for her hit “Rock the Boat.” Her work with super-producers Timbaland and Missy Elliott combined with her signature slinky choreography made her a pop&B star, but her tragic death, much too soon, cemented her as an icon.