Singer-actress Zendaya thanked her fans Sunday after announcing she was no longer starring in a planned Lifetime TV-movie about the late R&B star Aaliyah.
“My Zswaggers are the BEST!” she tweeted. “Thank you for your undying support thru everything!”
Earlier in the day, a representative for the 17-year-old Disney Channel star told E! News, “Zendaya is no longer involved in the project,” which Lifetime had announced June 16 under the working title “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B.”
It was unclear from the statement if Zendaya had quit or was let go. Lifetime’s public-relations Twitter account late Sunday afternoon said only: “We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold.”
Some Aaliyah fans had complained about the casting, calling Zendaya, born Zendaya Coleman, too “light-skinned” for the role. Executive producer Debra Martin Chase called such criticism “ridiculous,” asking in Entertainment Weekly: “What does it mean to be black enough? I’m African-American . . . [Zendaya] is biracial, but she identifies as black . . . And most importantly, she physically resembles her.”
Aaliyah’s family had been lukewarm on the project, which is based on the biography “Aaliyah: More Than a Woman” by Wall Street Journal senior editorial director Christopher Farley. “Fans, we hear your comments and concerns,” the family wrote on its Twitter page the day after the film was announced. “Unfortunately we cannot confirm the family is behind the project at this time.”
Born Aaliyah Dana Haughton, the singer-actress — who played the title role in the Anne Rice movie adaptation “Queen of the Damned,” among other screen work — died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.
Zendaya became a star with the 2010-2013 series “Shake It Up!” on the Disney Channel, where next year she headlines the comedy series “K.C. Undercover.” Her TV movie “Zapped” aired on that network Friday. She was a contestant last year on “Dancing with the Stars.”