Aaliyah’s Family Threatens to Sue Lifetime Over Biopic

Aaliyah in 2000
Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images

It looks as though Lifetime has two unhappy families on its hands when it comes to its upcoming R&B-singer biopics. Earlier this week it was announced that Disney actress and singer Zendaya Coleman would portray Aaliyah in the Lifetime-produced biopic based on the best-seller Aaliyah: More Than a Woman by former Time magazine music editor Christopher Farley. Lifetime said that the movie would include Aaliyah’s original music, as well as songs remade by Coleman. Now the late R&B singer’s family has said that they’re planning to file a lawsuit against the network.

According to TMZ, Barry Hankerson, Aaliyah’s uncle and former manager, says the family is peeved that no one from the network contacted them about the movie. Hankerson went on to tell TMZ that the family has already hired a lawyer and will block any attempt by Lifetime to use any of Aaliyah’s music, as well as the release of the film. Apparently Aaliyah’s family feels that her story is too big for the small screen and deserves a theatrical film.


Members of Whitney Houston’s family had expressed similar displeasure after the announcement of her biopic. Pat Houston, Whitney’s sister-in-law and former manager, felt that Whitney’s story deserved a bigger outlet than television. Bobbi Kristina—Whitney and Bobby Brown’s only child—felt that she was the only one who could pull off portraying her mother. Those complaints haven’t stopped Lifetime’s production, and last week it was announced that Yaya DaCosta had captured the leading role in the movie.

Lifetime has yet to respond to Aaliyah’s family’s issues.

Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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