Zendaya Coleman Explains Exit from Aaliyah Biopic

Jul 21, 2014 11:30am
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Zendaya Coleman opened up about her recent exit from the upcoming Aaliyah biopic.

The 17-year-old Disney star posted several videos on Instagram Friday explaining why she backed out of Lifetime’s “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B.”

“Let me just explain something,” she said in the first of three videos. “The reason why I chose not to do the Aaliyah movie had nothing to do with the haters or people telling me that I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t talented enough, or I wasn’t black enough. It had absolutely nothing to do with that.”

The “Shake It Up” star was cast to play the late R&B singer in June but dropped out of the part weeks later amid widespread criticism over her casting. Some complained Coleman, who is biracial, was too fair-skinned for the role. Others questioned whether the singer-dancer-actress had the maturity to play the 22-year-old Aaliyah, who was once linked to R. Kelly and died in a plane crash at the height of her popularity in 2001.

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But Coleman, who was the runner-up on Season 16 of “Dancing with the Stars,” said she left because of concerns over the production.

“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,” Coleman said in the second clip. “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.”

Instead, Nickelodeon star Alexandra Shipp will replace Coleman in the role. Talk host Wendy Williams, who is exec producing the TV movie, made the announcement on Twitter and her show Friday.

Coleman sent her best wishes to Shipp.

“Congratulations to the new woman playing Aaliyah,” Coleman she said in her final video. “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.”

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