Sooo…when I first read that Disney star Zendaya Coleman was cast as Aaliyah in the biopic “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B,” I went into one of those self-righteous Black power rants about Zendaya not being brown enough to play “Baby Girl.” I thought back to “106 & Park” host Keshia Chante, whose been lobbying to play the role of Aaliyah since birth (OK, maybe not that early, but as soon as she could pick out her own Tommy Hilfiger boxers and overalls, she did). It was the same feeling I got when Zoe Saldana was cast as Nina Simone. Let’s just say, I wasn’t feeling it.
Then, after some grueling research (a quick search on Youtube and dialogue with #TeamBeautiful) I realized, casting the Aaliyah biopic was about more than who looked like her (sorry Keshia) and more about who could move and sound like her. *Throws to this video of Zendaya hitting a pretty swaggy dance break*
Zendaya isn’t the obvious pick, but I think with some tanning and assistance from Aaliyah’s former choreographer Fatima, she will rise to the part. The forthcoming flick is based on the bestseller “Aaliyah: More Than a Woman.” The Lifetime Original Movie will be filmed this summer and premiere in the Fall.
Do you think Zendaya can pull it off? Let us know in the comments section. In the meantime I did my own round of casting, check out who I think should play the rest of the pivotal people in Aaliyah’s life.
1. Casting The Aaliyah Biopic...
There's an alleged Aaliyah biopic in the works and according to several sites, casting for the film has begun. Finding an ensemble who will bring to life her legacy will be difficult and the ultimate factor that will either make or break this movie. While we're still skeptical about the production, we have some ideas on which thespians should be enlisted to tell her story...
2. Keshia Chante As Aaliyah Dana Haughton
Keshia Chante has pretty much been (subliminally) lobbying for this role since we were introduced to the new "106 & Park" host. Not only does she look like the late songstress, she can sing as well, making her the perfect candidate to play Aaliyah.
3. Omar Gooding As Timbaland
"Baby Boy" actor Omar Gooding (and brother of Cuba Gooding Jr.) would be an ideal person to play Timbaland. The super-producer played a pivotal role in Aaliyah's life and career and should have one of the larger roles in the film. Omar's boyish looks would come in handy when playing a young Timbaland.
4. Columbus Short As Dame Dash
Aaliyah and Dame Dash carried on a relationship for some years during her rise to fame. If there's going to be a picture about her life, Dame would surely need a role. Columbus Short's sometimes abrasive personality would be beneficial in his portrayal. His serious demeanor also fits Dame's stern business mentality. We think this is a perfect match!
5. Jamie Foxx As R. Kelly
We all know the story behind R. Kelly and Aaliyah's relationship. Kelly's character's in the film would be one of the harder roles to cast (if they decide to go there). Since Aaliyah was underage when she and R. Kelly were married, the topic should be handled with care and who better of an actor than Jamie Foxx to handle the complexity of the role? Jamie can sing (and doesn't have a problem rocking a baldie).
6. Danielle Brooks As Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott had a major role in Aaliyah's career when the "Baby Girl" singer first began to transition into a woman. With Timbaland, Missy produced Aaliyah's second studio album "One In A Million" that went on to sell over 3 million copies. "Orange Is The New Black" star Danielle Brooks has the perfect personality to play a young Missy.
7. Terrence J As Aaliyah's Brother Rashad Haughton
If you look back at pictures of Aaliyah, chances are there's a tall and slender fella beside her. Aaliyah and her brother Rashad were very close. We're sure his character will have a significant role in the film and we think former "106 & Park" host Terrence J would play him perfectly.
8. Affion Crockett As Jay Z
We know what you're thinking, casting a comedian as Jay Z? Well Affion Crockett does a spot on impression of Jay Z (check his Youtube) and if he can turn off the funny and embody Jigga's swag it could work. Afterall, Jamie Foxx did it!
9. Justin Combs As Ginuwine
Aaliyah was rumored to have carried on a relationship with R&B singer Ginuwine who was also working with Timbaland and Missy at the time on his own music project. While Diddy's son Justin Combs may not be an actor, he physically fits the description (baby hairs and all) to portray a convincing Ginuwine character. And if he's anything like his step-dad, he's able to bust a move. Side note: Is he legal? Chile...
10. Michael K. Williams As DMX
DMX was distraught when Aaliyah died. They had worked together on the film "Romeo Must Die" and he appeared in her tribute video "I Miss You." "The Wire" actor Michael K. Williams, who's mastered thuggish roles like his vicious character Omar, is a shoo-in (in our minds) to play X.
11. Aaliyah's Mother Diane Haughton
Aaliyah's mother Diane is a beautiful woman who produced a beautiful daughter. The first person who came to mind to portray Aaliyah's mom was Stacey Dash, who also resembles Keshia Chante (if you close one eye and squint really hard).