Former Disney child star Zendaya Coleman has dropped out of Lifetime’s upcoming Aaliyah biopic, after weeks of being criticized by the late singer’s fans.
On Sunday, Lifetime’s PR team confirmed the sad news via Twitter and wrote, “We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold.”
In an interview with
E! News, Coleman’s representative also confirmed the news but failed to divulge details regarding Lifetime and Zendaya’s “mutual decision,” except that there were production issues.
“Aaliyah has been an inspiration to Zendaya. She was honored to portray her and pay tribute to her. If she is going to do it, she wants to do it right,” the source explained.
Earlier this month, Debra Martin Chase, executive producer of the biopic shared that Zendaya was picked to portray Aaliyah in the biopic entitled “Aaliyah: The Princss of R&B” because she had the late singer’s spirit, according to
Entertainment Wise’s Inside TV.
Chase has also defended Zendaya from fans who initially claimed that the “Shake It Up” star wasn’t the best fit for the role because she wasn’t black enough.
“Honestly, I think it’s ridiculous. What does that mean? What does it mean to be black enough? I’m African-American. What does that mean? She’s biracial but she identifies as black. She has a very strong black father. It’s very narrow and short-sighted. It’s not the world we live in today. And she, like you, like all of us, encompasses all her cultural experiences and heritage. And most importantly, she physically resembles her,” Chase stressed.
After Lifetime’s confirmation, Zendaya herself thanked her fans for all of their support. On
Twitter, the 17-year-old wrote, “My Zswaggers are the BEST! Thank you for your undying support thru everything!”
Meanwhile, it is unclear whether or not Aaliyah’s family had anything to do with Lifetime’s decision to put the project on hold. Upon its announcement, Aaliyah’s family revealed that they did not have anything to do with it, News Day has said.
On Twitter they wrote, “Fans, we hear your comments and concerns. Unfortunately, we cannot confirm the family is behind the project at this time.”