It seems like not a single day can go by without Lifetime's Aaliyah biopic hitting another snag. Then again, this is a pretty big snag. Just when we thought the petition to get the Aaliyah biopic shut down was the worst thing that would happen, Lifetime revealed that Zendaya had quit the Aaliyah biopic and in doing so brought production to a screeching (though temporary) halt. It was sad news, but it wasn't really all that surprising. After all, Zendaya's casting in the role of Aaliyah has seen no shortage of controversy and that trouble was only exacerbated by Aaliyah's family revealing they disapprove of the biopic entirely, with or without Zendaya in it. However, when she was interviewed about it at the BET Awards, Zendaya revealed that she quit because of the biopic itself not the controversy. Um, right.
"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 was quoted as saying by Variety. "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."
Considering the fact that it has only been two weeks since Zendaya was announced to be playing the role of Aaliyah, it seems suspicious that her opinion of the project could have turned around so quickly without outside influence. Even when the controversy broke out, she was still staunchly defending her right to have a chance to portray one of her idols. When Aaliyah's family expressed their disapproval of the project by noting that it had nothing to do with the project itself, Zendaya retweeted their statements about not being rude to her as the innocent party in all this.
Now, after all of that, we're expected to just believe that Zendaya is suddenly dissatisfied with the project as it is. What changed? Maybe it was the fact that she couldn't go forward knowing she had Aaliyah's family's blessing that started to get to her, since she's just as big a fan of Aaliyah as the rest of us. Maybe she was uncomfortable with the fact that Lifetime intended to portray Aaliyah's relationship with R. Kelly despite how disturbing that would be. Maybe she just plain doesn't want to admit that the controversy was bothering her even more than she was willing to show.
No matter what, this might not be the last time we see Zendaya's name attached to an Aaliyah project. According to TIME magazine, Zendaya was quoted as saying, "When the time comes when [an Aaliyah biopic] is done right and it’s 100 percent, by all means, I will be the first person there ready to go... I just think she deserves the world. She deserves something really, really incredible and so I would rather wait for that."
So far, it appears that Lifetime still intends to move forward with the project even with Zendaya backing out, so it's almost a relief to know that the controversy will be concentrated on the network rather than on the teen actress. After all, Zendaya didn't do anything wrong in being excited about getting the role she's probably always dreamed of. Maybe when and if Lifetime incorporates Aaliyah's family's opinions into the production of the project, we might have a more controversy-free dedication to Aaliyah that's worthy of her legacy.