The Nickelodeon actress Alexandra Shipp has been announced as the new star of the Aaliyah biopic Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, replacing Zendaya Coleman who left the project after just two weeks, saying that the film felt rushed and not "100% there".
The Lifetime film has been beset by trouble since its inception, with fans criticising Coleman as "not black enough for the role", Aaliyah's family seeking legal action to prevent the film being made and rumours that its production company was struggling to obtain rights to the singer's music.
But the team behind Aalilyah seem confident enough about it going through to bother continue looking for a lead. Executive producer Wendy Williams tweeted about her excitement to start working on it and confirmed Shipp's role as Aaliyah.
Coleman has also stepped forward to congratulate Shipp on landing the role and clarify the reasons for her exit from the production. In a series of videos posted to Instagram, she explained that her departure had nothing to do with public complaints over her casting.
"The reason why I chose not to do the Aaliyah movie had nothing to do with the haters or people telling me that I couldn't do it, I wasn't talented enough, or I wasn't black enough. It had absolutely nothing to do with that," she says. "The main reasons were that the production value wasn't there, there were complications with the music rights, and I just felt like it wasn't being handled delicately considering the situation."
Coleman, who stars in Disney's Shake It Up! and recently competed on Dancing With the Stars, also said that she tried to unsuccessfully make peace with the late singer's family about the biopic.
"I tried my best to reach out to the family on my own, and I wrote a letter, but I was unable to do so," she said. "Therefore, I felt not really morally OK with moving forward with the project."
Watch her videos below:
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