Zendaya Says Aaliyah Decision ‘Had Nothing to Do With Haters’

By Jamilah King Jul 21, 2014

Zendaya Coleman, the 17-year-old Disney star who was criticized for agreeing to play Aaliyah in an upcoming biopic, says that her decision to leave the project was due to her concerns that the project was doomed before it began. 

The Lifetime biopic is based on Christopher Farley’s bestselling 2004 biography "Aaliyah: More Than a Woman." Zendaya’s casting initially caused an uproar in part because critics said that the actress, who is biracial, wasn’t black enough for the role. 

"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," the performer said in an Instagram video. "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."

Actress Alexandra Shipp has been cast to play the role instead, with Zendaya offering her some advice: "I only hope she does not have to deal with half the hate that I had to deal with. And remember that we are all human beings trying to do what we love to do. Let’s practice motivation and love — not discrimination and hate. All right?"