Dear Lifetime: How Does One Cast a Light-Skinned, Skinny Missy Elliott and Timbaland?

Chattrisse Dolabaille; Isaak Smith
YouTube screenshot; IMDb

Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic is really starting to perturb a lot of people. In the cable network’s most recent casting reveal, we have the actors who will portray Missy Elliott and Timbaland, two of the people who had a hand in crafting Aaliyah’s sound.  

First, let’s take a look at Elliott and Timbaland of yesteryear:


And now, here are the two people cast by Lifetime to portray the producers—Chattrisse Dolabaille as Elliott and Izaak Smith as Timbaland:

Insert any random “WTF” gif you can find. I’ll use Arnold Drummond.


I get it—not every actor or actress will resemble the person he or she is playing, but come on. This casting is a huge stretch, even for Lifetime.

Of course, those on Twitter had their opinions about the casting, and #lifetimecastings once again took on a life of its own:


So who’s to blame? Lifetime, the casting director and even Executive Producer Wendy Williams definitely have input into who is cast in a movie. I don’t blame the actors taking the role, because people have to eat and work.

It’ll be interesting to see how Aaliyah’s family cast their own movie later this year. Hopefully they’ll do a lot better than Lifetime. 


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

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