Aaliyah

Hometown: Born in Brooklyn, NY; raised in Detroit, MI

Music Breakthrough: Song “Back and Forth,” from her debut LP “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.”

Favorite Thing About The Business: “The process of making a film is really different (from music) and challenging.”

Favorite Actors/Actresses: Morgan Freeman and Al Pacino. Meryl Streep and Cicely Tyson.

Believe it or not, at 21, R&B singing sensation Aaliyah has waited years to make her move to the bigscreen. Timing was key in the diva-in-training’s decision to star opposite Jet Li in Warner Bros.’ “Romeo Must Die,” skedded for a March 22 release.

“Before this project, I got a lot of offers for movies, but didn’t feel I was ready,” she says. “So I worked with a coach for a year and I still work with him now. … I wanted to do it the right way.”

“Romeo,” which is a martial-arts spin on Romeo and Juliet, is Aaliyah’s first movie, but she is no stranger to the public eye. Appearing on the music scene seven years ago at the age of 14, Aaliyah recorded her debut album “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number,” which went plati-num. She followed up her freshman effort two years later with “One in a Million,” which earned double-platinum status.

Looking to take her magic to the silver screen, the Detroit native was very focused in choosing the right role. “I went to Warner Bros. to meet for another project and Lorenzo DiBanatore asked me what I was really looking for my first film. I told him what kind of character I wanted and how it was important for me to make the right transition from music to (being) an actress. He said, ‘I have this movie with Jet Li,’ and I’m a huge Jet Li fan, so I wanted the role after that that.”

Playing Trish, the daughter of a black crime boss who falls in love with Li, a member of a rival Asian crime syndicate, Aaliyah says she chose the role because she “liked her attitude. I thought she was similar to me in a lot of ways. Trish is very independent and strong willed, and I liked the fact that she didn’t let anybody push her around. We have a fight scene together that Jet came up with. I do a few little moves, which was cool.”

Though singing is her first love, Aaliyah is committed to acting, saying, “I take everything I do seriously and when I’m acting, I look at myself as an actress, and when I’m singing, I look at myself as a singer.

“I know a lot of people are getting into it, but…I work every day at it at home and I really want to make my mark as an actress.”

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