17-year-old Zendaya will play Aaliyah in a new TV biopic

The Disney actress will star in a Lifetime film called Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B

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Aaliyah died at the age of 22 in a plane crash

The American singer-actress Zendaya Coleman is set to star in a biopic about the life of R&B star Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in 2001. Zendaya is set to record four of Aaliyah's songs for the film, based on the TIME music editor Christopher Farley's biography Aaliyah: More Than A Woman. Others stars had been linked with the role, including Solange Knowles, but the prestigious part has been handed to the Disney star who will only turn 18 this year.

The fit seems a natural one as Aaliyah and Zendaya's career trajectories share similarities – they have both enjoyed success on screen and as singers, and they both encountered stardom as pre-teen prodigies. Zendaya Coleman finished as a runner-up on ABC's Dancing With The Stars and will appear in the Disney Channel's new series K.C Undercover. Her debut album "Zendaya" was released last year. Similarly, Aaliyah started working in showbiz at a freakishly early age – by the age of ten, she'd performed with Gladys Knight and at 12 had signed with Jive Records.

In 2001, 22-year-old Aaliyah was tragically killed in a plane crash in The Bahamas after filming the music video for "Rock The Boat". The pilot, Luis Morales III, was found to have traces of cocaine and alcohol in his bloodstream. Her death reverberated around the music industry and in the years since her passing, fellow artists such as Kendrick Lamar have paid tribute to a talent who many believed would go on to firmly establish herself as one of the most important artists that the R&B genre has ever seen. Despite her early death, she is listed by Billboard as the tenth most successful female R&B artist of the past 25 years.

The film is due to premiere in the US on Lifetime TV in the autumn of 2014 and will be directed by Bradley Walsh.

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