Zendaya Coleman took to Instagram to dispel rumors and explain why she left the controversial Aaliyah biopic. On Friday, after it was announced that Wendy Williams was the executive producer of the Lifetime film and that Alexandra Shipp had been tapped to play the late R&B singer, Coleman posted a series of videos explaining her departure. Coleman stepped down from her role on the film in June and people assumed it was because of complaints that she wasn’t black enough.
"Let me just explain something," Coleman said in an Instagram video. "The reason why I chose not to do the Aaliyah movie had nothing to do with the haters, or people telling me that I couldn't do it, I wasn't talented enough or I wasn't black enough. It had absolutely nothing to do with that. The main reasons were that the production value wasn't there, there were complications with the music rights, and I just felt like it wasn't being handled delicately considering the situation."
Coleman also said she tried contacting Aaliyah's family but wasn't successful.
"I tried my best to reach out to the family on my own, and I wrote a letter, but I was unable to do so," she said. "Therefore, I felt not really morally OK with moving forward with the project."
In the end, she congratulated Shipp and wished her luck.
"I only hope she does not have to deal with half the hate that I had to deal with. And remember that we are all human beings trying to do what we love to do. Let's practice motivation and love — not discrimination and hate. All right?"
The Aaliyah biopic will air this fall on Lifetime and will be based on Christopher Farley's biography Aaliyah: More Than a Woman.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.