On Monday, it was announced that young star Zendaya Coleman had snagged the lead role in the movie based on the life of R&B singer, Aaliyah. The movie, set to air on Lifetime in the fall, will share the story of the One in a Million singer who tragically passed away in a plane crash in 2001. The movie, which has been said to be in the works for some time, follows news of another upcoming biopic based on the life of Whitney Houston, also set to air on Lifetime.
The Aaliyah movie, which will begin filming later this summer, will follow the journey to fame that began at such an early age for the singer. Born Aaliyah Dana Haughton, she appeared on Star Search at the age of 10 and eventually signed a record deal with Blackground Records at 12 years old. Her first album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, was released in 1994. The strength of the debut helped her rise to stardom. More success came with the follow-up albums, One in A Million in 1996 and the self-titled Aaliyah in 2001. The latter of the three was nominated for a Grammy Award.
On August 25, 2001, she and eight other people, including her stylists and executives from her record company, boarded a jet in the Bahamas to head back home to the States. She had just finished an early wrap of what would be her final music video, Rock The Boat. Shortly after departure, the plane nose-dived and crashed, due to having too much weight on board. Aaliyah, as well as all of the other passengers, were killed instantly. She was only 22 years old. Before her passing, she was set to begin filming for the then-upcoming sequels to The Matrix. The part she was to play, a character named Zee, was eventually taken over by actress Nona Gaye.
Coleman will be performing four of Aaliyah’s hits for the soundtrack to the film. A popular singer in her own right; her debut album, Zendaya, was released in 2013. It has sold over 1.1 million copies. Her Disney Channel series, Shake It Up, premiered in 2010 and completed production last year. She is currently filming a new show for the children’s network, entitled K.C. Undercover.
This is the second announcement regarding Lifetime airing a true story based on a late singer. Just last week, it was revealed that a former America’s Next Top Model contestant, Yaya Decosta, had won the coveted role of Whitney Houston for the upcoming film, I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story. The movie is being directed by one of Houston’s former co-stars, Angela Bassett, and will mostly center around the relationship of Houston and her former husband, singer Bobby Brown. It will air in 2015.
There has been no word on any other casting choices. However, it will be interesting to see who portrays two very heavy hitters in Aaliyah’s life: record producer Timbaland and rapper Missy Elliott. Both were strong forces in bringing Aaliyah’s career to further heights following the release of her first album. In 2014, it was stated that there would be a second posthumous album of songs featuring unheard vocals of Aaliyah, recorded before her death. Those plans were eventually cancelled.
By Jonathan Brown