Not “Black Enough” to play Aaliyah? Zendaya Speaks Out

Aaliyah & Zendaya - June 2014 - BellaNaija.com 01
If you are an avid follower of pop culture or Twitter, you must have heard that Lifetime Network is making a biopic about the life and times of late singer Aaliyah.

It will be titled – Aaliyah: Princess of R&B. 17-year-old Disney star Zendaya Coleman snagged the coveted role.

Ever since the biopic as well as the lead star was announced, there has been an uproar from fans and Aaliyah’s family. And the drama has not stopped.

Zendaya who is bi-racial has been criticised for not being “black enough” to play the “Try Again” singer. She finally gave her opinion on that;

“A lot of people say I’m not black enough. Half black is just enough. ​It doesn’t matter what color you are, it’s about how you portray the character. For those that don’t know, Angela Bassett and Tina Turner, they look nothing alike but she was that character so I think that’s what it’s all about.”

Aaliyah’s family who is unhappy about the biopic, has released a statement asking fans to protest online.

“Aaliyah was more than a singer, she was -and is still – an American music icon whose legacy continues to live on and influence today’s music culture, just as Ray Charles, Notorious B.I.G., Selena and Johnny Cash.

Considering the magnitude of her fans’ affection alone, she deserves to have a tribute much more grand than a television network debut that won’t even consider the perspectives of those who were closest to Aaliyah.

Disregarding the families and dishonoring the legacies of celebrated figures who have passed on, big networks want to exploit their stories for a buck. We’re here to make it clear that it’s not okay!

Lifetime Television is trying to dictate the status of our heroes, our heroines and – in this case – our beloved Aaliyah. We implore everyone to call Lifetime Television, send emails and bombard social media so they know we demand respect for our cultural icons.

We will not sit idly by while they misrepresent and reap profits from our luminaries. There is more at stake than the public could imagine.”

29 Comments on Not “Black Enough” to play Aaliyah? Zendaya Speaks Out
  • Lindsey June 22, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Methinks Aaliyah’s family need to take several seats in an empty stadium…how dare they call Aaliyah an icon and compare her to Ray Charles and Johnny cash? Wth? Aaliyah that was underage and sleeping with R Kelly? She only gained popularity AFTER she died so her family needs to be thankful that some bored producer is willing to even take this to Lifetime. Don’t nobody want to see her on the big screen in the theaters.

    • nene June 23, 2014 at 11:05 am

      don’t mind them. icon ko, icon ni.

    • Brandi McNeal June 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Wow. You are very disrespectful to someone who died very early. I hope that when its your time to go people talk about how you had the nerve to say a about this beautiful women. Are you mad? Aaliyah is ICON get your facts straight. Now you have a damn football stadium of seats. Plus, what the hell is “me think”. Lol.

      • Lindsey June 24, 2014 at 4:39 am

        Boo boo Methinks is a word. Grab a dictionary or better yet, Stay in school and stop making Aaliyah your Icon. Bet you started having consensual sex at 13 too.

        The sex scandal aside…Aaliyah was peers with Monica and Brandy. Those two today are not considered Icons cos they had an average career. Hot when they were younger (earlier in their careers ) and they were phased out as soon as younger and fresher talents emerged. They couldn’t stand the test of time. Icon is someone whose talent stood the test to time. Come rain, come younger talent come anything. How many younger emerging talents today do you see raining accolades on Brandy? Aaliyah? Monica? On the flip side, when you hear Janet Jackson, Mary J Blige, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey…my dear those are icons who have paved the way for many young girls. Mind you these icons have their share of scandals but their talent stood the test of time. Olodo oshi. Mscheesesswwwww

  • Lindsey June 22, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Let me add…the same family that consented to a marriage between R Kelly and an underage Aaliyah at the time, just to save themselves from being locked up for child neglect when they carelessly left their daughter under R Kelly’s “coaching” . They were greedy then , now they are still greedy I can see

    • Lisa June 30, 2014 at 5:11 am

      To be fair…I will say this. I do believe her family knew there was “something” going on between their underage daughter and R Kelly. I don’t think they were completely delusional. Yet, it is incorrect that the family consented to the marriage. Aaliyah lied about her age to R Kelly. She told him she was 18. When her parents found out about the marriage they got it annulled immediately.

    • Ada July 1, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Honey, Kelly Rowland is not an icon. Neither is Michelle Williams. But it is extensively arguable that Beyonce is. Hence, your previous analogy is invalid.

  • Liv June 22, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Sorry, but i just don’t get that Aaliyah vibe from this girl not one bit. Even more annoying we’ve waited for this to happen and then they go pick her. Arggh!!!

    • mtsw June 22, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      Like u can do any better.. Even if they casted another person for the role y’all would still complain.

    • Jasmin June 23, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      Its a girl called lolita price on youtube. Its almost scary looking at her. She would have been perfect for the role! My problem with hollywood (not so much Zendaya) is how roles for BLACK people are always casted by a mixed race person. I doubt a brown-skinned full black woman will play Halle Berry in her bio film. Now if Zendaya plays this role even after knowing that the family doesn’t agree, we have to wonder how big of an Aaliyah fan she actually is vs her being an opportunist.

      • Kia June 23, 2014 at 5:18 pm

        Halle berry is bi-racial!

  • www.blogsvila.blogspot.com June 22, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Na wa

  • Dee June 22, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    What does her sleeping with Rkelly have to do with her musical talents. Were Ray Charles and Jonny Cash saints ?

  • SOLO ACT June 22, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    she is 50% white. i dont know why people dont (esp BLACK people) respect that biracial people are of two races! this girls IS NOT BLACK! after u all would be complaining about ohh only light skin ppl are on mag covers. well if u say someone that her MOM is white, is a black person why do u complain. my own is that she is URBAN, meaning she dresses like a black american and probably talks like them so she can make it in the business and pass as a black. the fist time i saw this girl on disney, i thought she was filipino. she gets a spray tan to look bronzy/darker now.
    now i dont believe she should play Aaliyah because her life was soo short! i dont see what they would put that in a 90+min movie + they dint get permission from the family Aaliyah still has a MOM!

  • Tee June 23, 2014 at 4:24 am

    Everyone on this site is petty as -… Did y’all not read the article? So what if she doesn’t look like Aaliyah? It’s all about the portrayal of the character! Plus, I’m sure the production will make sure they have the best makeup artists to darken her skin and hair to make her look similar to Aaliyah. Clearly you all don’t research anything. If you actually read the article then did research on the girl like an intelligent person would, you would know that she can dance her ass off (An important characteristic to the portrayal of Aaliyah-Think ‘Are you that somebody?’). So please, save your lame ass comments until you actually research first!

    • Jasmin June 23, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      Stupid! If you have to darken someones skin to play a role, then it shouldn’t be meant for you to play! Believe it or not girls with Aaliyah complexion exists (and Nina Simone) yes that is shade to Zoe Saldana. Plenty of girls would have been better for the role but lets not plat dumb and pretend like we don’t know why she got it.

      • Ada July 1, 2014 at 11:12 am

        Oh ? You seem well versed in everything Hollywood. Pray then, do tell us why SHE got the role.

  • Tee June 23, 2014 at 4:33 am

    I like Aaliyah! I really do. The only thing I don’t understand is her family’s comparison of her to Ray Charles and Johnny Cash? Unacceptable. She was an icon, no doubt, but she was nowhere close to doing what Biggie, Ray Charles, and Johnny Cash did for American music. Despite the family’s dumb comments, Lifetime STILL needs to make sure Aaliyah’s family and close friends are on board before the move forward with the movie. It should be the family’s decision!

  • haley Martinez June 23, 2014 at 6:02 am

    Are yall jealous are nawh cause yall didn’t get the part and zendaya did

  • iba June 23, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Is it just the skin tone, it looks just fine to me

  • nene June 23, 2014 at 11:05 am

    zendaya doesn’t look like aaliyah, the skin tone is not even an issue.

  • trendycubicle.com June 23, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Does her skin color really matter? Issues!!!

  • Brandi McNeal June 23, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I feel like Lifetime should consider the family. The only I would like to know is this about the beautiful Aaliyah or money. Aaliyah had a beautiful voice and could kill it on the dance moves. Too bad she’s not here to shut these dumb a** people up. Who knows she could’ve gave Beyonce a run . Can we let her RIP. <3 <3

  • Kayali June 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    There is much more that goes with playing a role of a icon than just looks. Not only do they have to be able to sing and dance but they have to know how to ACT too. Zendya may not look the part but she comes close and she probably, due to her resume, was the most qualified. We’re not even sure if the movie is going to happen, so what’s the big deal?

  • Keron June 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Zendaya doesn’t look like aaliyah or give me the Aaliyah vibe. I really don’t care to much about her skin color as much as her facial features. She will fool no one.

  • Jay June 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Cha! Its ridiculous. Lets see them use someone that’s half white to play a white icon. Eminen featuring Drake. Because half white should be enough. If Cassie ventura was still relevant Zendaya would be perfect for her biopic. This is no different than the whole Zoe/Nina Simone ordeal. Hollywood yet again whitewashing black characters. The day we realize we need our own media that devoid of hollywood/white input the better.

  • Dede June 24, 2014 at 4:35 am

    Like zendaya said, you don’t have to look like the character to portray the character! And honestly half black is enough back in the day half black people were considered black and got treated just as bad as fully black people. Although there are many look alikes there was probably no one as qualified as zendaya. I’m sure there were many Tina turner look alikes but they chose Angela not because she looked like Tina but because she was the most talented and the most qualified. If you look up Zendaya on YouTube maybe watch some of her performances instead of just judging by looks you would get that Aaliyah vibe from her! Zendaya is beautiful, can act and sing, and dance her ass off(all thing in common with Aaliyah) and if you actually knew about her you would know that. I do agree tha Aaliyah’s family should be behind it though.

  • KT June 30, 2014 at 12:42 am

    I agree with you Dede! When they announced that she would play Aaliyah, I said, “hmmmm”. And then my niece left my tv on the Disney channel. I walked in my room and there was this girl dancing and singing in a video. Before I knew who she was, Aaliyah came to my mind. I think she would be perfect as long as she can act.

  • Wendy July 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I thought that it was an unlikely choice when she was picked. Se doesn’t resemble Aaliyah in the slightest.

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