Alexandra Shipp Replaces Zendaya, Will Play Aaliyah in Lifetime Biopic

23 year-old actress Alexandra Shipp will play the slain R&B singer in the Lifetime biopic due out later this year.


"Shipp is set to play the R&B legend Aaliyah in an upcoming Lifetime biopic scheduled to premiere this fall, according to talk show host Wendy Williams, who is an executive producer on the project. Shipp takes on the role after Disney Channel star Zendaya Coleman opted out in June."

Shipp is best known for her role as KT Rush on the Nickelodeon show “House of Anubis.” She has also appeared on “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel,” "Days of Our Lives", “Switched at Birth”, “Victorious”, and "Awkward". Currently, she can be seen in season 2 of Showtime's "Ray Donovan".

"The film, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, will portray the life of the beloved singer who’s music topped the pop charts from 1994 until her untimely death in a 2001 plane crash at 22. The TV movie will be based on the biography, Aaliyah: More Than a Woman, by former TIME editor Christopher John Farley."

Wendy Williams (executive producer) confirmed the news first:

Article from The Wrap:

When TheWrap spoke to Jomo Hankerson, Aaliyah's cousin and president of her label Blackground Records, he said that the family was ready to withhold whatever rights it holds regarding Aaliyah from the production.

Because we control the masters [to Aaliyah's recordings], the rights and some images of the musical elements that we put together like the videos, and photo shoots and things that we did, what we can do is just withhold those elements from the production, which we would do,” Hankerson said.

That would make it difficult for the production, but not impossible to gain usage rights to Aaliyah's songs. Blackground Records owns the recordings of Aaliyah's voice, but not the publishing rights. So, Lifetime can purchase rights to re-record the singles from the songwriters, which include Timbaland, Missy Elliott and the late Static Major.

The film will be produced by Aaliyah Productions, Inc., with Howard Braunstein (“The Informant!”) and Debra Martin Chase (“Sparkle”) executive producing. Bradley Walsh (“Turn the Beat Around”) is directing, working from a script by Michael Elliot (“Brown Sugar”).

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