'Aaliyah' Biopic's Casting Director Defends Choosing Zendaya For Lead Role: 'She Is A Great Choice!'

 @TreyeGreen t.green@ibtimes.com on June 17 2014 4:56 PM
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Former "Dancing with the Stars" contestant Zendaya Coleman was announced on June 16 as the actress chosen to play Aaliyah in the upcoming Lifetime biopic on the late singer's life. Reuters

Facing fallout from her decision to cast rising star Zendaya Coleman as the beloved R&B singer Aaliyah, casting director Twinkie Byrd is standing by it.

Music lovers and Aaliyah fans were sent into a frenzy Tuesday afternoon when it was revealed that the Disney star had been cast to play the late singer in a Lifetime biopic, currently titled “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B.”

Many questioned her resemblance to the star, while others felt she might not be able to embody the essence and personality of the beloved singer. But others offered more positive critiques of the casting choice, noting that Coleman can sing, dance and act, key skills needed to ace the role of Aaliyah, who died in August 2001.

Speaking to TheYBF.com, Byrd said she thinks Coleman is extremely talented and is the perfect choice to play Aaliyah.

Byrd gave The YBF the following statement on her decision:

Zendaya embodies everything you want in a Actress to play Aaliyah. She is a Poised, Professional, STRONG Actress (studied at California Shakespeare Theater and American Conservatory Theater). A Triple Threat Actor, Singer Dancer. She LOVES AALIYAH and will do a Wonderful Job! She is of mixed ethnicity. Her name is Bantu (Zimbabwe) meaning "To Give Thanks".

Let's not Hate on it but Congratulate! She is a GREAT CHOICE!

The highly anticipated biopic on Aaliyah has been rumored for years. But it was unclear if the project would ever move past the development stages without the blessing of the singer’s family, who have been exceptionally protective of her legacy and knocked any previous talk of a movie on her life.

Just a handful of actresses were rumored to be in talks to play the role ahead of the announcement, with Coleman not even in the conversation as a possibility. “106 & Park” host and singer Keshia Chante was thought to be one of the frontrunners. She recently posted an image of herself rocking Aaliyah-inspired makeup and clothing with the caption “The Audition.” The image and caption appeared to hint that she was participating in a casting call for the role.

The Lifetime film will follow the trajectory of Aaliyah’s rise to superstardom. It will start with her beginnings as a contestant on “Star Search” at 10 years old up through her success as a chart-topping singer and in-demand actress. 

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