Zendaya has backed out of her starring role in the Lifetime movie about late R&B singer Aaliyah.
The 17-year-old Disney Channel star is “no longer involved” in the project, a rep for the actress confirmed to the Daily News Sunday.
The news of her departure comes less than two weeks after it was first announced that Zendaya would portray the “Back and Forth” singer in the Lifetime biopic, tentatively titled “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B.” Production was scheduled to begin this summer, and the network hoped for a fall release.
But complications, and a new search for the lead, might warrant a push-back for the film. There were also production issues surrounding the project, a source told E! News, citing problems acquiring rights to do Aaliyah’s music.
The late singer’s family has been vocal about their opposition to the idea of a small screen adaptation for Aaliyah’s story – instead they want a feature film – and about their plans to block Lifetime from acquiring any rights to the songs.
“We want a major studio release along the lines of ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It,’ the Tina Turner movie,” Jomo Hankerson, Aaliyah’s cousin and president of her label, Blackground Records, told the Daily News.
“This needs A-list actors, A-list talent that can breathe life into what we think is a phenomenal story.”
Her family also expressed outrage at not even being consulted for the film.
“They have people they can talk to, people who can provide lots of color,” Hankerson said. “But if you don’t talk to us, it’s not in the story.
Many of Aaliyah’s fans also took to social media, voicing disappointment at the choice of Zendaya for the role. The backlash prompted the teen star to issue a response on her own Twitter page.
“I’m just a 17 year old girl who got cast to play one of her biggest inspirations,” she wrote on June 16.
“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… she’s beautiful inside and there will never be another Aaliyah, I just hope to share her beautiful story, and make her proud up in heaven”
Aaliyah died in a tragic plane crash in 2001, at the age of 22.