In 1994, Aaliyah and R. Kelly were reportedly married while the Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number singer was 15 years old (Kelly was 27). While both artists denied the claims, Vibe published a copy of a marriage certificate with Aaliyah’s age falsified as 18. The singer’s parents reportedly annulled the marriage the following year.
According to Rolling Stone, the Lifetime network movie Aaliyah: Princess of R&B is built on a 2002 biography of the singer titled Aaliyah: More Than a Woman.
In a comment published by the New York Post, the Lifetime movie’s executive producer Debra Martin Chase claims that the R. Kelly narrative “will be explored with care.”
“Aaliyah’s personal and professional relationship with R. Kelly will be explored with care in the film as we set out to depict her life with the utmost respect,” she said. “Above all else, it’s our hope to inspire an entirely new generation with her music and larger-than-life talent.”
Still, Rolling Stone reports that the singer’s family has publicly denounced the Lifetime production, saying, “she deserves to have a tribute much more grand than a television network debut.”
“Aaliyah was more than a singer, she was–and is still–an American music icon whose legacy continues to live on and influence today’s music culture, just as Ray Charles, Notorious B.I.G., Selena and Johnny Cash,” a statement released by the family said.
“Considering the magnitude of her fans’ affection alone, she deserves to have a tribute much more grand than a television network debut that won’t even consider the perspectives of those who were closest to Aaliyah,” the statement said. “Disregarding the families and dishonoring the legacies of celebrated figures who have passed on, big networks want to exploit their stories for a buck. We’re here to make it clear that it’s not okay!”
Disney Channel alumni Zendaya has been cast for the role of Aaliyah and is slated to record at least four of the singer’s original tracks for the movie.