Zendaya Coleman Explains Her Departure From the Aaliyah Biopic (Video)

Zendaya Coleman Explains Her Departure From the Aaliyah Biopic (Video)

When it was first announced that she had exited the production, I speculated that it may have been due to a number of reasons, including Aaliyah’s family’s vehement and vocal opposition to the project (they wanted "A-list" talent to star in the film, and were also upset that they weren’t consulted by the network on the making of the film), as well as backlash she faced from fans of Aaliyah, over her casting (many saying she wasn’t "black enough" for example).

Zendaya decided to address the mystery behind her leaving the project, in an effort to silence all the speculation. She did so over the weekend, releasing a trio of videos on her Instagram page – videos I’ve embedded below for you to watch.

She has since been replaced by Alexandra Shipp in the role, news that Wendy Williams (who has signed up to executive produce the film) announced last week.

Certainly Alexandra Shipp isn’t exactly an "A-list" actor either, is she? Maybe amongst a certain demographic, possibly? So one can only assume that the family still won’t be pleased with her casting.

In the videos, Zendaya denies that any of the above reasons I (and others) gave, influenced her decision, stating that "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."

She went on to say that she actually tried to reach out to Aaliyah’s familiar directly, but nothing developed there. And she also wished her replacement (Shipp) all the best, hoping that she doesn’t face a similar kind of back-lash that Zendaya herself faced, after her casting was announced.

I’m an old man now, but I can remember being a 16/17 year old; and I can only wonder what it must be like for these young ladies to face such tremendous and incredibly harsh criticism from strangers, practically (tens-of-thousands, and maybe even more of them) who are essentially rooting for your failure. I can only imagine the pressure a kid at that age, in the position she’s in, has to shoulder in situations like this.

But, as the saying goes… what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Based on the bestseller "Aaliyah: More Than a Woman" by former Time Magazine music editor Christopher Farley, the Lifetime Original Movie is to be filmed this summer to be premiered in the Fall.

Howard Braunstein ("The Informant!") and Debra Martin Chase ("The Princess Diaries," "Sparkle") were serving as executive producers.  

Bradley Walsh ("Turn the Beat Around") was to direct from a script written by Michael Elliot ("Brown Sugar").

Watch Zendaya’s 3 video addresses below:

RELATED: At Your Best: The Cinematic Potential of Aaliyah’s Life and Music

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I think Zendaya was a great choice for Aliyah. Aside from the fact that Zen is truly talented, she bares a real physical likeness to Aliyah … how can people not see that? We missed a real opportunity with Zen. Having said that congrats to the new actress, Alexandra Shipp, wish her lots of luck and a successful movie.

Up In The Balcony

"OH LORD… is Aaliyah back?" "like a home-run leaving the ballpack… its back-back-back and OUTTA HERE"

Statler & Waldorf make short order of this non-issue.

Waldorf: "Well, one reader said he didn't know why so many black women are settling for CRAPPY NETWORKS like VH1 and Lifetime"
Statler: "So you're agreeing with Aaliyah's family?"
W: No, that's what Mike said.
S: "and you?"
W: "Well… crappy is what crappy does but lets be real, Aaliyah has no legs"
S: "What?! I didn't know she participated in the Special Olympics?"
W: "Stop it, the woman's story is not that broad… so why should it get a big screen treatment with A-list stars?"
"Well… I'm just sayin'… that's what her family wants"
"And Aretha Franklin wants Halle Berry to play her"
"OUCH!!! That's a low blow"
"Nawl man, I understand… if my life story hit the big screen I'd want the smooth lady magnets like Denzel and Idris to play my part, not Busta Rhymes"
"So now YOU'RE agreeing with Aaliyah's family… this story deserves the big screen with a big name, huh?"
"Stop twisting my words. I said Aaliyah's-story-has-no-legs. That said, the movie industry is not a charity, so if it doesn't make money… IT DON'T MAKE SENSE."
"But Statler…"
"But my a$$… and lets not forget, Aaliyah's story is that of a black woman"
"UT OH… a tangled web we weave"
"That's right, everyone know the few black stories that have seen big screen productions have featured black men"
"And people were not bustling to see them?"
"Nope… and those that made money… well, Jackie Robinson was a white savior film and "Ray" had an incredible cast. However, Malcolm X is still waitng on a decent return on investment."
"The Last King of Scotland?"
"A cannibalistic black man who muederd thousands of his own people… yum yum"
"Well, what about Hotel Rwanda?"
"The genicide of 100,000 black Africans… yum yum"
"Okay, okay, but what about Django Unchained?"

Statler's dentures fall from his mouth as he tries regain his composure.

Statler: "Look man, we're done. Zendaya said the production value wasn't there. That should be the end of this story. So as I was saying "its back-back-back but OUTTA HERE"

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