Just a few weeks after hearing that Zendaya Coleman called it quits on the Lifetime-produced Aaliyah biopic, producers have finally found a new young star to play the late singer (remember all of the celebs who tried out in the first place?). According to The Hollywood Reporter, 23-year-old actress and Nickelodeon star Alexandra Shipp will play Aaliyah and production of “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B“ will continue this summer.
The biopic, based on the book, “Aaliyah: More Than A Woman,” by Christopher Foley, is produced by Aaliyah Productions, Inc., notable producer Debra Martin Chase and — a major surprise — Wendy Williams! The talk show queen took to Twitter to announce her role as executive producer:
— Wendy Williams (@WendyWilliams) July 18, 2014
This is major for both Wendy and Alexandra. Who knew that Wendy was working behind the scenes to make Aaliyah’s story happen? And, who knew that producers could throw some shade by replacing a Disney star (Zendaya) with a Nickelodeon actress (Alexandra)? **sips tea** What do you all think of the casting this time around? We hope producers did the right thing and consulted Aaliyah’s family before making their decision. They were very candid about not being consulted in the first place. But, who knows?
1. Black Women In Hollywood
Despite the obstacles that many Black actors, directors and other creatives face in Hollywood, there are many Black women in the industry shutting it down -- from the women managing networks, production, casting, costume design and more. We recognize them not only for their creative talents, but also for their trailblazing against the odds. From Shonda Rhimes to Ava DuVernay, these women are pioneers.
2. Mara Brock Akil
Akil is one woman who is truly running the show. She's created hit shows -- "The Game," "Girlfriends," and, of course, "Being Mary Jane," -- and practiced her pen game in the "Moesha" writing room. Awards: Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (BET Comedy Awards), Creative Visionary Award (Black Girls Rock!)
3. Ava DuVernay
DuVerney had plenty of experience in the film industry as a former movie publicist, but, she soon decided to try her hand at directing. And, we're totally thankful for it. She's directed the critically-acclaimed movies, "Middle of Nowhere" and "I Will Follow." And, is in the process of filming Martin Luther King, Jr.'s biopic, "Selma." Awards: Best Director Award, 2012 Sundance Film Festival
4. Shonda Rhimes
At this point, Rhimes doesn't need much an introduction. The TV screenwriter is responsible for creating our favorite shows on television -- "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal." We're also looking forward to her new ABC show starring Viola Davis, "How To Get Away With Murder." Awards: Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series (NAACP Image Awards), Outstanding Television Drama (Golden Globes)
5. Debra Lee
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET works hard to keep the popular network at the top. But, before holding down the top position at the network, she had titles at BET as the President and Chief Executive Officer from June 2005, President and Chief Operating Officer from 1995 to May 2005.
6. Gina Prince-Bythewood
Before writing and directing one of our favorite movies ever, "Love & Basketball" -- and winning numerous awards from it, including an Independent Spirit Award -- Gina wrote a few episodes of "A Different World." In 2008, she wrote the screenplay for "The Secret Life of Bees."
7. Dee Rees
Dee has received critical acclaim for her film, "Pariah," which she also wrote and directed. If "Pariah" is any indication, we can only imagine how great her upcoming Bessie Smith biopic, "Bessie" will be. Kudos to the fact that she'll be directing Queen Latifah who'll be playing Bessie.
8. Cheryl Boone Isaacs
Ms. Isaacs is a bonafide player in the industry. As the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, she has plenty of experience under her belt -- she coordinated the marketing campaigns for "Forest Gump" and "Braveheart."
9. Johnetta Boone
Boone may not have a recognizable face, but this power player is the costume designer responsible for Julia Roberts' wardrobe in "Runaway Bride" and costumes in "The Notebook" and "Wedding Crashers."
10. Tina Gordon Chism
Chism is the woman who wrote "Tyler Perry's Peeples," "ATL" and "Drumline." The screenplay writer also has directing credits in "Peeples" and was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Screenwriting at the Black Movie Awards and Best Screenplay at the Black Reel Awards.
11. Debra Martin Chase
Chase is a big deal in Hollywood. As a two-time Emmy nominated motion picture and television producer, Chase was one of the executive producers of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s "Cinderella" starring Whitney Houston and Brandy as well as a producer for "Princess Diaries" and "The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants." She is the first Black woman to have a solo producing deal at a major Hollywood studio.
12. Angela Robinson
As a writer and executive producer for "True Blood," Angela has a few more writing credits on other Hollywood projects. She's directed the film "D.E.B.S" and wrote for "The L Word" and "Hung."
13. Amma Asante
Asante (who's pictured here with actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is slowly making a name for herself as a Hollywood director. The first film she wrote and directed, "A Way Of Life," came out in 2004 and "Belle," her second feature film is already receiving rave reviews. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for the director.
14. Victoria Mahoney
Mahoney had a small role in "Legally Blonde" and "Seinfeld" before directing her first film, "Yelling To The Sky."
15. Kasi Lemmons
Kasi has solidified her career as a director in Hollywood ever since her notable film "Eve's Bayou." She also directed "The Caveman's Valentine" and "Talk to Me." The Independent Spirit Award and NAACP Image award winner also directed "The Silence of The Lambs."
16. Julie Dash
Dash made history in 1992 as the first Black woman to direct a full-length feature film, "Daughters of the Dust," with a general theatrical release in the U.S. The film was later inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. In 2002, she directed Angela Bassett as Rosa Parks in "The Rosa Parks Story."
17. Stephanie Allain
Allain has been putting in a lot of work in Hollywood as a producer. She's produced some of our favorite films, including "Hustle & Flow," "Something New," "Black Snake Moan" and "Tyler Perry's Peeples." But, we're looking forward to the next movie she's produced -- "Dear White People."
18. Lisa Cortes
Cortes is not only a Hollywood producer, but she also has a credit as a costume designer. She produced many films, including "Precious," "Shadowboxer" and "The Woodsman." On the "Precious" set, she even served as a costume designer for Mo'Nique and Gabourey Sidibe.
19. Sanaa Hamri
Sanaa has solidified her name as a director in the music and film industry. As a music video director, she directed Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass," Jadakiss' "You Make Me Wanna" and Mariah Carey's "Crybaby." But, she's also received success as a film director with "Something New," "The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants" and "Just Wright."
20. Alison McDonald
The TV writer has been putting in work and writing for successful shows, like "American Dad" and "Everybody Hates Chris." She's finally stepping out on her own and using her stellar skills to produce and create her own web series, "She Got Problems."
21. Angela Meryl
Angela has been a stuntwoman in some of our favorite movies for over 16 years. She's doubled for a range of actors and actresses, including Queen Latifah, Beyonce, Vanessa Williams, Halle Berry (she's currently doubling in "Extant") and Vivica A. Fox. Angela is also a two-time Taurus Award nominee for her performance in the "Kill BIll" opening scene. She drops industry knowledge in, "Stunts: The How-To Handbook."
22. Jwaundace Candece
Candece is another popular Black stuntwomen in Hollywood and is constantly in-demand. In addition to doubling for Tyra Banks, Taraji P. Henson, Jennifer Hudson and Whoopi Goldberg, she also has credits in several films, including "DreamGirls," "The Vampire Diaries," "CSI," "Devious Maids" and "The Vampire Diaries." She was also nominated for "Best Fight" at the MTV Movie Awards.
23. Amanda Foster
Foster is definitely a big deal in Hollywood. She's the first Black stuntwoman from the UK in the film industry and has solidified a name for herself. She has doubled for Halle Berry, Whoopi Goldberg, Vivica Fox and Naomie Harris. But, Foster is also known for her stunting credits on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2."
24. Darnell Martin
As a television and film director, Martin has directed episodes of "Law & Order" and "Grey's Anatomy." She also directed "Cadillac Records," which featured Beyonce as Etta James. In 1994, she was the first Black woman to write and direct a film, "I Like It Like That," for a major Hollywood studio, Columbia Records.
25. Euzhan Palcey
Palcey is notable in Hollywood as a major Black director. After directing "A Dry White Season," she became the first Black woman director to be produced by a major Hollywood studio, MGM. Palcey was also the only female filmmaker to direct Marlon Brando after his nine year hiatus.
26. Bernadine Anderson
Although Bernadine may not be known by face, she was in charge of making up the faces of some of the most notable actors in Hollywood. She was a part of the makeup department of several major films, including "Coming To America," "Boomerang," "What's Love Got To Do With It" and "Harlem Nights."
27. Ruth E. Carter
This legendary costume designer has created masterpieces for some of the most iconic movies of all time. She has worked on the sets of "Malcolm X," "Amistad," -- two projects that earned her an Academy Award for Best Costume Design -- "School Daze," "Love & Basketball," "Crooklyn," "Sparkle," and most recently, "The Butler."