Just hours after the news broke that Zendaya had decided to leave Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic, the 17-year-old opened up about the decision during Sunday’s BET Awards.
“I felt like something with the production [wasn’t] all the way there, the project wasn’t all the way there,” she told reporters according to People. “If I’m going to do something for someone I care about so much, I have to do it the right way.”
The proposed television movie about the singer who died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22 was set to begin this summer for a fall airing. Based on the bestselling book “Aaliyah: More Than a Woman” by former Time music editor Christopher Farley, the film (and Zendaya) almost instantly came under fire after the network announced the project about two weeks ago.
“I just felt that because I love her, and because I respected her so much as an artist, I don’t want to do anything that’s half or anything that’s less for her,” Zendaya said.
Although Aaliyah’s family were against the project because Lifetime had excluded them from the production and it believed that Aaliyah’s story should be told on the big screen, they didn’t object to the casting of Zendaya per se.
“I think she’s a lovely young girl,” Jomo Hankerson, Aaliyah’s cousin and president of her label, Blackground Records, told TheWrap. “I have a problem with the whole production, so casting would be a part of it. But I never wanted to single her out, because I think that she’s a good, young actress and that she’s just trying to take an opportunity that was presented to her.”
Due to Zendaya’s exit, Lifetime said the biopic is currently on hold.