The news of a movie in honor of late and beloved R&B singer Aaliyah should spark happiness amongst her supporters. However, the announcement is doing the exact opposite. Earlier this week it was unveiled that a decision had been made on who would take on the role of the diva and all hell broke loose. Disney star Zendaya Coleman was awarded the part and Lifetime is the network that will be heading the project. They have tentatively dubbed the endeavor Aaliyah: Princess of R&B. Much to the public’s dismay, Coleman beat out 11 plus hopefuls including singer/hostess Keshia Chanté and actress Lolita Price who bears a seriously uncanny resemblance to Ms. Haughton. Fans feel Coleman is too young and too green for the role and have reportedly gone so far as to start a petition to give her the boot.
If that wasn’t enough, the rumor mill is buzzing about Aaliyah’s family taking issue with the film as well. TMZ reports that they are upset with the fact that no one consulted them when casting or putting together the project. Additionally, they want the film to be a major motion picture and not just another television production. As a result, they are allegedly doing all that they can to have the film shut down. This includes bringing an attorney into the mix to take some legal action as well as blocking any use of her music. Other sites are saying that Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson is completely on board with the film and is satisfied with what Lifetime has in store for the portrayal of the fallen singer. And there is a lingering question on how or if the situation Aaliyah had with R. Kelly will be covered in the flick. Most believe it won’t in order to preserve Aaliyah’s memory in a positive light. Which is understandable yet it wouldn’t make for a totally authentic telling of her story. At the time of press, there was no confirmation on either side of the situation. Nor has anyone heard from the singer’s mom and brother. Talk about drama.
But this isn’t the first time that an attempt to pay homage to Aaliyah went awry. Young Money artist Drake wanted to release a posthumous album with her vocals in light of his deep rooted admiration of the songstress. But when people found out that her musical partners in crime Timbaland and Missy Elliott would not be involved with the collective at all; they caused such a frenzy that the idea was quickly shelved. Hopefully, this storm will settle down soon and Aaliyah’s memory can go back to nurturing fond feelings instead of ill ones.
**My Two Cents: I love Aaliyah and am looking forward to a movie about her life. I agree that Zendaya Coleman is not the best pick ever to portray the singer but all of this controversy surrounding the biopic is unnecessary. That’s not doing Aaliyah any justice and it puts more pressure on Coleman than she deserves. She got the part fair and square. Plus, we never know. She may own the role and have us all eating crow. I do think Aaliyah’s family should have some input though. After all, who better to help shape and mold Coleman for the film than those that knew her best. It will be interesting to witness how this all plays out. Rest in peace baby girl. You are definitely missed! -MinM