Family of Aaliyah Wants To Shut Down Biopic, As A Mom I Would Too!

June 18, 2014  |  

As someone who has followed the career of Aaliyah since she her debut, I thought I was excited to see the story played out on the screen. But when I discovered that it was for the small screen as opposed to a theatrical release, I had mixed feelings. Now, after discovering that her family is trying to stop production, I know that my initial reaction was not too far off. This is a movie meant for the big screen, and knowing that her family feels a TV movie is too small for someone as big as Aaliyah (as reported by TMZ), I think Lifetime, the network proposed to air the movie, should fall back.

Earlier this week, the news broke that Disney actress Zendaya Coleman would star as Aaliyah in the upcoming biopic Aaliyah: Princess Of R&B, set to start filming this summer. People began to hate on teen star Zendaya, who tweeted: “She’s been an inspiration and influence in my whole career, her talent still shines brighter than ever, all I wanna do is honor her.” I didn’t know much about Zendaya, but her pictures seemed to resemble Aaliyah. My initial thought was, if the family is okay with it, then why was everyone else so mad? I assumed that they had given her their blessing.

But it seems as though they don’t have as much as a say so as I thought. Aaliyah’s uncle and former manager Barry Hankerson told TMZ that the family was pissed that no one from the network had contacted them about the movie.

Lifetime has not responded to TMZ for comment on the story. But ironically, they have been visible in other press outlets. The casting director of the film spoke to about the decision to cast Zendaya, in response to the criticism. And there is so much other coverage on the upcoming film.

Hankerson says the family has hired an attorney to try and block the release of the film. They are also saying that they will not allow the film to use Aaliyah’s music, which almost seems as if the movie would turn out to be a disaster without. I know that I don’t want to see an Aaliyah movie with some fake newly recorded-Aaliyah-sounding music.

Like Drake, I’ve always been a big fan of Aaliyah. I never opted for the tattoo, but I have followed her career since the debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. Her follow-up projects, One In A Million and the Aaliyah album, helped establish her as the Princess of R&B. But when she died in a plane crash in 2002, fans became even more invested in the mystery that became one of our generation’s most tragic stories.

As a mother, I can’t imagine anything worse than losing a child. It’s been over ten years since her mom lost her, but I suppose that the pain never goes away. Her mom just wants to protect her baby’s legacy, and the producers of the film should respect that. Yes, she was a celebrity whose story is well-documented, and maybe years down the line, her story will be told a thousand times over. But in 2014, it still has never been touched as far as a feature is concerned. If the family wants it on the big screen, then so be it. Admittedly, I rarely watch Lifetime movies, and I would guess that many of Aaliyah’s fans don’t either. That’s not to say that their programming isn’t good, it’s just that they have never truly catered to this audience. For Lifetime to not have let her family make decisions about her story seems straight up disrespectful, not just to the family, but to us, her fans as well.



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