Skip to main content

Aaliyah movie casts Disney's Zendaya

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
updated 1:57 PM EDT, Tue June 17, 2014
Zendaya is known for the Disney Network series
Zendaya is known for the Disney Network series "Shake it Up!" and also was a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Zendaya will play the late singer in a Lifetime movie, report says
  • Zendaya was also a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars"
  • But some Aaliyah fans are not pleased by her casting

(CNN) -- One of the Disney stars is set to play the late singer Aaliyah in an upcoming television movie.

Variety reports that Zendaya has been cast as the singer in a Lifetime movie to be based on the book "Aaliyah: More Than a Woman" by former Time magazine music editor Christopher Farley. The singer, born Aaliyah Dana Haughton, died in a 2001 plane crash in the Bahamas, along with the pilot and members of her video crew. She was 22.

Singer Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.
Singer Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.

Zendaya, who like the late singer also performs using just her first name, is well-known for co-starring on the Disney Network series "Shake it Up!" and appeared as a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2013.

The 17-year old, who will reportedly record four songs for the project, tweeted her excitement.

"She's been an inspiration and influence in my whole career, her talent still shines brighter (than) ever, all I wanna do is honor her," the Disney star tweeted about being cast. "Show how much she accomplished in only 22 years....she's beautiful inside and there will never be another Aaliyah, I just hope to share her beautiful story, and make her proud up in heaven #babygirl #forever #OneInAMillion."

Aaliyah was known to friends and fans as "Baby Girl." "One in a Million" was one of her hit songs.

Not everyone appears thrilled with the casting of the teenager, whose full name is Zendaya Coleman.

One fan tweeted, "I'm a huge Aaliyah fan. I do NOT want Zendaya Coleman playing Aaliyah in a upcoming movie," while another said, "Zendaya doesn't even resemble aaliyah what is this foolishness."

TheYBF.com spoke with the film's casting director, Twinkie Byrd, about some of the fans' complaints, including a concern that a biracial actress should not be playing the African-American singer. According to her bio on IMDB.com Coleman's father is African-American, and her mother is of German, Irish and English ancestry.

"Zendaya embodies everything you want in a actress to play Aaliyah," the site quotes him as saying. "She is a poised, professional, strong actress (studied at California Shakespeare Theater and American Conservatory Theater). A triple threat actor, singer dancer. She loves Aaliyah and will do a wonderful job! She is of mixed ethnicity. Her name is Bantu (Zimbabwe) meaning 'To Give Thanks.' Let's not hate on it but congratulate! She is a great choice!"

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT