Zendaya on Exiting Aaliyah Biopic: ‘The Project Wasn’t All the Way There’

Zendaya on Exiting Aaliyah Biopic: 'The
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

It didn’t take long for Zendaya to explain her reasoning for leaving Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic, “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B.”

The Disney Channel actress and singer was set to star as Aaliyah, but it was announced Sunday that she was leaving the project. At the BET Awards Sunday night, she opened up about why she decided to exit the telepic.

“Basically, I just felt that because I love her, and because I respect her so much as an artist, I don’t want to do anything that’s half or anything that’s less for her,” she told reporters on the red carpet. “I felt like some things with the production weren’t all the way there, the project wasn’t all the way there. If I’m going to do something for someone I care about so much, I have to do it the right way.”

According to reports, Aaliyah’s family may feel the same way. Aaliyah’s cousin and president of her label Blackground Records Jomo Hankerson told the New York Daily News that the family wanted a bigger release for a biopic on the late R&B singer than Lifetime could provide. Hankerson said the family wanted a “major studio release,” citing Tina Turner film “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”

Zendaya, however, might not be completely done with the idea of portraying Aaliyah just yet.

“Honestly, I feel like I’m waiting for the right role to come up and I’ll be doing it again,” she said.

Zendaya’s departure from the film has caused production to be put on hold, Lifetime announced. Zendaya was also set to record four songs for the movie, based on “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B” by former Time Magazine music editor Christopher John Farley.

The biopic was originally scheduled to film over the summer for a fall premiere date.