With Hollywood releases like the James Brown biopic Get on Up and the Four Seasons biopic Jersey Boys just over the horizon, music-based dramas are as popular as ever, but not just on the big screen. Lifetime is gearing up for an upcoming original movie about the short and tragic rise to fame for R&B star Aaliyah, and they didn’t have to look very far to find their star. Pop musician and child star Zendaya has been tapped to take the lead in Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, which is set to air later this year.
The TV movie is based on the 2001 mini-biography Aaliyah: More Than a Woman, written by former Time Magazine music editor Christopher Farley. Aaliyah, last name Haughton, made her first public splash when she appeared on Star Search at 10 years old, and she later signed with Jive Records for her 1994 debut album Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number. She soon moved on to Atlantic Records for her next album, the multi-platinum smash One in a Million, and starred in the films Romeo Must Die and Queen of the Damned. She released her final album, Aaliyah, in 2001, just one month before she and several others were killed in a plane crash over the Bahamas, cutting short what would surely have been one of the most successful R&B careers ever.
With all that legacy piled up in such a short amount of time, Zendaya has her work cut out for her, but at least she has had a somewhat similar career path. At just 17, she’s already made quite a (single) name for herself across several entertainment platforms, and this is definitely her biggest role to date. A child model, Zendaya landed a role on Disney Channel’s dancing comedy Shake It Up and soon got into the recording business, releasing her self-titled debut album in 2013. Beyond that, she's also starred in a couple of Disney Original movies and performed on Season 16 of Dancing With the Stars. (She came in second.) She’ll soon star in the Disney spy comedy series K.C. Undercover, set to premiere in 2015.
Want to watch her show off those dancing moves?
According to Variety, Zendaya will record four of Aaliyah’s songs for the Lifetime movie, although they don’t share which songs will be included. The script was written by Michael Elliot (Just Wright) and it will be directed by Bradley Walsh (Turn the Beat Around). Production is set to begin on Aaliyah: Princess of R&B this summer, with a plan to air it this fall.
What do you guys think about Zendaya playing one of the most talented artists of the last 20 years?