The family of late R&B singer Aaliyah has reportedly vowed to block a Lifetime biopic chronicling her rise to stardom and tragic death.
Barry Hankerson, the uncle and former manager of Aaliyah, confirmed that the late singer's family is furious over the Lifetime network's production plans particularly because they were never notified about a potential movie, according to TMZ.com.
On Monday, reports revealed that Disney star Zendaya Coleman had been cast as Aaliyah in a Lifetime movie based on former Time magazine music editor Christopher Farley's book "Aaliyah: More Than a Woman."
Filming is scheduled to begin in coming weeks however according to Hankerson the family of Aaliyah plans to not only block Lifetime from using of any of the late singer's work, but they also hope to prevent the release of the biopic. The family has reportedly hired an attorney in a bid to stop all production plans.
While they are strongly against the idea of a biopic, they are reportedly open to the idea of a theatrical film which they believe would better showcase Aaliyah's remarkable talents and achievements.
Aaliyah rose to stardom in 1994 with her debut single "Back & Forth" and the Brooklyn-born singer would go on to become one of the biggest hip-hop and R&B singers of the 1990s. In 2001 she died in a plane crash in The Bahamas at age 22.
Lifetime's decision to cast Coleman as Aaliyah was met with criticism and even some backlash on Monday, which prompted the 17-year-old to speak out in her own defense on social networking site Twitter.
"She's been an inspiration and influence in my whole career, her talent still shines brighter (than) ever, all I wanna do is honor her," Coleman tweeted to her 4 million followers on June 16.
"Show how much she accomplished in only 22 years....she's beautiful inside and there will never be another Aaliyah, I just hope to share her beautiful story, and make her proud up in heaven #babygirl #forever #OneInAMillion," she went on. "I'm just a 17 year old girl who got cast to play one of her biggest inspirations #positive."
Twinkie Byrd, who is the Casting Director of the film, also spoke out about the backlash. Some critics questioned whether it was appropriate for Coleman, who is biracial, to play an African-American icon with Oneida heritage.
"Zendaya embodies everything you want in a actress to play Aaliyah," Byrd reportedly told theybf.com.
"She is a poised, professional, strong actress (studied at California Shakespeare Theater and American Conservatory Theater). A triple threat actor, singer dancer," Byrd continued. "She loves Aaliyah and will do a wonderful job! She is of mixed ethnicity. Her name is Bantu (Zimbabwe) meaning 'To Give Thanks.' Let's not hate on it but congratulate! She is a great choice!"