Lifetime's brick of a biopic Aaliyah: Princess of R&B received more than its share of criticism, not the least of which being that Alexandra Shipp's portrayal completely lacked any likeness to IRL Aaliyah in manner, music (what they could get of it), or dance. (It still managed to top telepics of last year despite its overwhelmingly vitriolic reception from fans—likely because all of us tuned in to hate-watch.)
Zendaya Coleman was originally set to play the iconic songstress, but she eventually dropped out for reasons that weren't immediately clear. Production halted until Shipp was cast, by which point both the process and product felt rushed. In a our new cover story Zendaya opened up about the reason she chose to walk away from the project:
I just didn’t like the way things were going down. There were a lot of things that came to my attention that I didn’t know about, about the family and production value. You just assume that things are taken care of when you step onto a project. But when you realize that things are just falling apart, you’re like, “This is not what I signed up for, this is not what I thought it was. This is not what I think is worthy of her movie.” It really ate me up inside. A lot of people thought that I knew that the family wasn’t involved, and I didn’t. I just auditioned like anyone else and got the job.
She went on to say that she felt it was "inappropriate" that no one working on the project actually ever knew Aaliyah, specifically any friends or family. "I can only know so much about someone from watching their interviews," she added. "I don’t know what she was like in her kitchen talking to her mom. That would be rude of me to try to figure that out without knowing."
Read the full cover story here.