Actress Zendaya Coleman chose not to speak out when reports revealed she would no longer play the role of Aaliyah in an upcoming biopic — but now, the teen star has ended her streak of silence and decided to share her thoughts.
In a series of video posts published on her Instagram page, Zendaya addressed why she decided to back out of the project.
She also touched on the negative comments she received from Aaliyah fans and social media users who criticized her casting — but Zendaya said their disapproval did not play a role in her decision.
“Let me just explain something: 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 black enough. It had absolutely nothing to do with that,” she said.
“The main reason is 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 said.
Aaliyah died in 2001 at the age of 22 in a tragic airplane crash. Her family has been tight-lipped about their thoughts on the film but have sent tweets asking fans to be “respectful to the artist playing the role.”
Zendaya touched on this in a separate video saying: “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 OK with moving forward with the project.”
The 17-year-old Disney actress has since been replaced by 23-year-old Nickelodeon star Alexandra Shipp while talk show host Wendy Williams recently announced that she will be the executive producer of the film.
“Congratulations to the new woman playing Aaliyah. I only hope that she doesn’t have to deal with half the hate that I had to deal with,” Zendaya said. “And remember, we are all human beings trying to do what we love to do. Let’s practice motivation and love, not discrimination and hate.”
The film, currently titled Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, is scheduled to air on Lifetime this fall.
Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works.