Last month, Lifetime halted production on its upcoming Aailyah biopic after the film’s star, 17-year-old Disney actress Zendaya Coleman, dropped out following rampant criticism from Aailyah’s estate. Now, filming for Aaliyah: Princess of R&B is back on schedule as a brand-new starlet has been tapped to play the late R&B singer.
As The Hollywood Reporter points out, 23-year-old actress/singer Alexandra Shipp will replace Coleman when production picks back up again later this summer. The news was revealed earlier today by talk show host Wendy Williams, who also announced herself as an executive producer. Bradley Walsh (the Flashdance remake Turn the Beat Around) will direct, with a script penned by Michael Elliot (Brown Sugar). That’s a photo of Shipp in costume above.
Whereas Coleman was best known for starring in Disney’s Shake It Up, Shipp most recently appeared in Nickelodeon’s House of Anubis. Her other acting credits include guest spots on Awkward, Ray Donovan, and Switched at Birth. As THR notes, Coleman was originally supposed to record four songs for use in the film. While there’s no confirmation Shipp will take over recording duties, it makes sense given her burgeoning musical career. Check out a dazzling sample below.
Aaliyah: Princess of R&B is slated to premiere sometime this fall. The film is based on Aaliyah: More Than a Woman, a 2001 book by music critic Christopher John Farley. It’s set to cover much of Aaliyah’s career and personal life, from her sudden emergence in the early ’90s to her tragic passing in 2001. That includes her controversial marriage to R. Kelly, a plot point which Aaliyah’s family had mentioned prominently in several legal threats to Lifetime.