The speculation is over! The roles of both Aaliyah and Whitney Houston have officially been cast. While, 106 and Park host Keisha Chante and maybe ever singer, Cassie had been in the running, the role of Aaliyah went to Disney Channel sweetheart (and girlfriend of Trevor Jackson) Zendaya! The young pop singer/actress begins shooting in a few weeks. Also, in casting news, America’s Next Top Model Runner Up YaYa DaCosta will portray Whitney Houston in an upcoming biopic. Both films will land on Lifetime.
Lifetime announced on Monday, June 16, that Disney actress and “Replay” singer Zendaya, 17, has been cast as Aaliyah in a new made-for-TV movie about the late R&B superstar, who died at age 22 in a plane crash in 2001.
The biopic — Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, based on the bestselling book Aaliyah: More Than a Woman — will tell the story of the “One in a Million” singer’s life and death, from her debut on Star Search to her rise to her fame and, finally, her tragic passing. Dancing With the Stars alum Zendaya will appear in the title role, and is set to record four of Aaliyah’s hit songs for the film.
Watch Zendaya Perform Her Song On Ellen and tell me if you think she was the right choice:
Helmed by Turn the Beat Around director Bradley Walsh, with a script by Brown Sugar screenwriter Michael Elliot, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B will shoot this summer. It’s set to premiere in the fall.
Incidentally, Aaliyah isn’t the only gone-too-soon diva whose life story is getting the small-screen treatment from Lifetime. Legendary singer Whitney Houston is also the subject of an upcoming movie from the network.
According to a press release about the project, I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story will chronicle “the headline-making relationship between the iconic singer, actress, producer, and model, and singer-songwriter Bobby Brown — from the time they first met at the very height of their celebrity, to their courtship and tumultuous marriage.” Angela Bassett, who costarred with Houston in 1995’s Waiting to Exhale, has been tapped to direct, and America’s Next Top Model alum Yaya DaCosta will play the title role.
YaYa has starred in films like The Butler and Tron Legacy in addition to soap opera All My Children. She recently had a baby with her husband who is a movie producer. While the biopic seems to be going forward, apparently Houston’s family is not in favor of it being a made for tv movie. They want it in the theater!