Nickelodeon actress Alexandra Shipp has been tapped to play the R&B singer, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Wendy Williams, who has boarded the TV movie as an executive producer, first announced the news Friday on Twitter.
Shipp takes over for Disney Channel star Zendaya Coleman, who was cast in the lead role as the R&B singer but exited the project in June. The actress and singer was to record four of the songs that would’ve appeared in the movie.
“We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold,” Lifetime wrote in a statement posted on its Twitter account on June 29.
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The project, titled Aaliyah: Princess of R&B is set, to resume filming this summer with a fall premiere date planned. The script for the biopic was based on a book, Aaliyah: More Than a Woman, by Christopher Farley.
Aaliyah, who topped the charts from 1994 to her death at 22 in 2001, has yet to get the biopic treatment. The film is being produced by Aaliyah Productions Inc., with Howard Braunstein (The Informant!) and Debra Martin Chase (The Princess Diaries) serving as executive producers. Bradley Walsh (Turn the Beat Around) will direct from a script written by Michael Elliot (Brown Sugar).
Shipp’s credits include Nickelodeon’s House of Anubis as well as episodes of Switched at Birth, Awkward and Ray Donovan. She’s repped by Osbrink and Elevate.