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Recording Artist Zendaya Cast to Play Aaliyah in Lifetime’s Original Movie ‘Princess of R&B’

Recording Artist Zendaya Cast to Play Aaliyah in Lifetime's Original Movie 'Princess of R&B'

Recording artist Zendaya has been cast to portray Aaliyah in a Lifetime Original Movie about the life of the actress and R&B sensation who, at the height of her stardom, tragically died in a plane crash.  

Based on the bestseller “Aaliyah: More Than a Woman” by former Time Magazine music editor Christopher Farley, the Lifetime Original Movie will be titled “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B” (although it’s a working title), the first movie about the beloved artist, will be filmed this summer and premiere in the Fall.

Quite a fast turnaround!

Here’s Lifetime’s official synopsis for the film from the press release I received:

Before Beyonce and before Rihanna, self-proclaimed “street but sweet” Aaliyah was poised to become a global icon with top-selling albums, a hot movie career and an adoring fan base. But behind the spotlight, Brooklyn-born, Detroit-raised Aaliyah Dana Haughton struggled to succeed in a tough business while staying grounded in the midst of her growing celebrity. The film follows the beautiful and talented performer’s inspirational journey, from her debut on “Star Search” at the age of ten to the challenges she faced during her rise to become the Princess of R&B. On August 25, 2001, at the height of her popularity, her life was tragically cut short when a plane carrying the singer and some of her video crew crashed after takeoff from a Bahamian runway. Although just 22-years-old at the time of her death, Aaliyah continues to lead a legacy as Billboard’s tenth most famous R&B artist of the past 25 years and one of the recording industry’s most successful artists in history.

Platinum-selling artist Zendaya will record four of Aaliyah’s songs for the film, including many of her hit singles.

“Replay,” her first single from her self-titled 2013 debut full-length album, sold 1,000,000 copies in the U.S. this January, and the music video now has more than 54 million views on YouTube.  

The busy multi-hyphenate will also star in the upcoming Disney Channel Original Series “K.C. Undercover” and the Disney Channel Original Movie, “Zapped,” which premieres this summer. She starred as Raquel “Rocky” Blue on the hit Disney Channel series “Shake It Up.”

Zendaya was also the break out star and runner-up on Season 16 of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Her casting comes on the heels of news that Yaya DaCosta Alafia has been cast to play Whitney Houston in another Lifetime biopic – that one directed by Angela Bassett, her directorial debut. Clearly Lifetime hopes to rip some ratings and profits from biopics on the lives of black musicians.

I should also note VH1’s TLC biopic which was a hit for that network when it premiered last fall.

“Aaliyah:Princess of R&B” will be produced by Aaliyah Productions, Inc. Howard Braunstein (“The Informant!”) and Debra Martin Chase (“The Princess Diaries,” “Sparkle”) will serve as executive producers.  

Bradley Walsh (“Turn the Beat Around”) will direct from a script written by Michael Elliot (“Brown Sugar”).

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Tyundra Jackson

I love zendaya and i think she well be good too play Aaliyah movie because zendaya look gets like Aaliyah and i don’t care what other people’s say is you don’t like Zendaya that your fault not mine but i love Zendaya and like her so go Zendaya do your thing girl

Tyundra Jackson



#BringBackOurGirls, enough said.

Ol' Skool

Oh lord, another "skin color" dispute in S&A's play ground.

"You are all pathetic. It's all about skin tone with you isn't it."
"Shame Shame Shame on you folks, always criticizing casting choices and acting ability based on skin color! It makes no matter what her complexion is! You people are WRONG"

Well, I don't know about "you people" but Zendaya and this color issue is trending across America. That's right, Shadow and Act is merely an extension of the real black world. Miss Zendaya is the talk of the town. The Associated Press is talking about this "debate" and so is The Huff Post. In fact, a black woman, Kim Kane, just posted an article at Huff Post: Zendaya To Play Aaliyah In Lifetime Biopic: Does Color Matter? Google it and read it.

Btw, Zendaya's daddy is a deep dark black man. So there's no doubt she is a black woman. Haters should shu fly, don't bother us.


Can someone go to YouTube or Google a young lady by the name of Lolita Price.
She is the spitting image of A aliyah. The only thing that bothers me with this is I don't think zendaya has he range really. Dance moves, sure…but there was something special when A aliyah sang. She just going to have to prove herself


Aaliyah was as dark as night. Yáll didn't know? Anyway Yes, it's a tragedy that she died so young, but let's not pump her up like she was the second coming of MJ. geez.


You are all pathetic. It's all about skin tone with you isn't it. Sad.


Yall check out lolita price on YouTube. She is totally worth looking into. She looks like aaliyah. This chick doesn't compare to lolita. Pass the message along. Hopefully we can get the producers to cast someone who actually looks like her. My vote goes to lolita price!!!


Some of you really need to seriously go GOOGLE Aaliyah so you can see what she really looked like. She was a beautiful "golden hue" American girl. This is NOT, no way, anything like the Nina Simone shit. Zendaya is barely "a shade" off. I think some folks are pissed because she's biracial and I have to say–and I never thought I'd say this–but your racist fangs are showing. I've practically agreed with 90% of the colorism issues posted on this site but one thing no one will say is that there seems to be constant "anti-light" shade almost ALWAYS on this blog. It's freakin' NUTS! I could understand not liking Zendaya if you were familiar with her acting AND dancing skills, but most of you don't know anything about her because she's been doing tv for kids! Seriously, you need to check her out. No doubt, she's a star in the making.


Great choice, but Kylie Bunbury does resemble Aaliyah a lot more, just a darker shade.

Real One

Are they even serious? Just cause this kid made it on the Disney Channel does not mean she can even come close to reenacting the life of one of the greats of my time. Aaliyah was an original lost before her time should have been. To try and put this child in her place as a singer of greats is a joke. Way to go Lifetime. Just ruin another person's life story by putting in some hack performer who can barely sing.


Harpo, who dis girl?

You people ought to be SHAME

Shame Shame Shame on you folks, always criticizing casting choices and acting ability based on skin color! It makes no matter what her complexion is! You people are WRONG.

Everybody knows the only thing that matters is if she has a hot booty. Which I would assume she doesn't have, based on that light skin.


I don't necessarily know who Zendaya is or whether or not she's right for the role, but I've always considered Aaliyah to be of a lighter skin tone. Kerry Washington and Gabrielle Union are Brown. IMO. Let's be honest this is lifetime, so I don't think many people will take this seriously.

Ol' Skool

"Clearly Lifetime hopes to rip some ratings and profits from biopics on the lives of black musicians."

And ratings and profit will be their reward. Listen, first and foremost, make no mistake about it… we're not talking well scripted high class drama… THIS IS The Lifetime Channel. Come on now, lets go back, remember that thang called "Betty & Coretta"? If you missed that blunder, how about that remake fiasco "Steel Magnolias"? What, you missed that too? Okay, one more… The Gabby Douglas Story. Yep, obviously we're not talking first class drama nor great acting. Come on now, from The Lifetime Channel's perspective, their mission, as stated above is ratings and profit… nuff said, close the door. In other words, black folk's money spends real good :-)

Hey, I joke but I'm serious, all things considered, Zendaya is a perfect choice. She has the resume, the exposure and the right look (who cares about light-brown skin vs a deep chocolate skin tone?) and this role will not require the skills of a seasoned first class professional. I mean, A-Listers need not apply.

Now don't get me wrong, there are those among us who love-love-love over-the-top soap opera-ish affair. Yum-YUM, they eat it up. So settle down folks b/c this is going to happen and all the "right" folks will be happy.

Cherokee rose

No just no. I like Zendaya, she seem like a sweet kid but this really does feel like the Nina Simone saga all over again. Aaliyah was a beautiful brown woman, as it really that hard to cast an actress who didn't look like Selena Gomez's little sister? And to those saying Keisha Chante…ugh no. She's not even an actress and frankly doesn't look like Aaliyah to me. Kylie Bunbury would have made a little more sense to me.


Zendaya is a poor choice. How about an unknown or Keshia chante? Zendaya is talented however she's not right for the part. This is Nina Simone all over

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