Zendaya And Jomo Hankerson Discuss Fate Of Lifetime's Aaliyah Biopic
A film about the tragically short life of R&B's baby girl Aaliyah has been rumored since her passing. Lifetime is now spearheading a project chronicling the late songstress' coveted rise in an upcoming biopic tentatively titled, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B. Based on former Time music editor Christopher Farley's bestselling biography Aaliyah: More Than a Woman, the highly anticipated film will trace the singer's life from age 10 to the height of her stardom in 2001.
The announcement has sparked several debates in the blogosphere and press, with many expressing their frustration with its portrayal as a made-for-TV biopic versus a motion picture akin to Selena, Ray, Notorious, Walk The Line, and other films based on the lives of fallen icons. In addition, allegations have coming forth that the Haughton family does not approve of the production, nor were aware that the project was expected to begin shooting.
"We are exploring our options, we don't know exactly what all of the recourse is, but we are talking to our lawyers. We definitely know that we won't be contributing any original music, they will not be able to use any of her vocals or anything that we created during the process of her career," Aaliyah's cousin Jomo Hankerson, son of Blackground founder Barry Hankerson, said exclusively to REVOLT regarding the family's attempts to stall production.
"We always thought her life and career was legendary and something would come along that would be right. I really don't understand how this is a biopic when you don't talk to me or my father and we released every record that she ever recorded, so there''s definitely some credibility issues," Hankerson added.
In the midst of the accusations, Disney star and fledging recording artist Zendaya Coleman has been tapped for the lead role of the film. Auditioning against an army of talent including Teyana Taylor and Keshia Chante - who quickly backed down after being informed the family was not involved - the 17-year-old expressed her excitement via Twitter and in a sit-down with REVOLT.
"There's obviously pressure when you really care about someone and take inspiration from someone, you want to do them justice and want to honor them and put them in the best possible light. I like the fact that it's being done with Lifetime because it only explores the positive. When you get into feature films, there's other things you have to get into, but I think that everything this movie embodies should all be positive. It should really just show her story and the amazing things she was able to accomplish in 22 years," Zendaya explained over the phone.
Continuing to move forward despite possible legalities, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B will be filmed this summer and is slated to premiere in the fall. In the meantime, take a listen to both sides of the story, above.