After Disney star Zendaya Coleman quit Aaliyah amid a cloud of controversy (Aaliyah's family, for one, didn't want Lifetime to do the biopic in the first place), Lifetime announced that they had replaced her with the relatively unknown Alexandra Shipp (from Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel). Wendy Williams, who is now an executive producer on the project, tweeted the news. Zendaya, meanwhile, took to Instagram video to explain why she left the movie with the note, "Let me just explain something ... #aaliyah #respect":
"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 I wasn't black enough. It had absolutely nothing to do with that. The main reasons were 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.
And 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 okay with moving forward with the project.
With all that being said, congratulations to the new woman playing Aaliyah. I only hope she does not have to deal with half the hate that I had to deal with. And remember that we are all human beings trying to do what we love to do. Let's practice motivation and love — not discrimination and hate. All right? Mwah."
Here are the videos: