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Lifetime’s Aaliyah Biopic Faces More Backlash for Missy Elliott, Timbaland Casting Choices

Aaliyah biopic casting controversy


Saying that Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic has been off to a rough start would be quite the understatement.

After battling their way through backlash about originally casting teen actress and singer Zendaya to play the R&B icon to concerns that the film wasn’t going to be an authentic account of her life, producers are now facing criticism over their casting decisions for Missy Elliott and Timbaland, who were Aaliyah’s friends and musical collaborators.

According to, Elliott will be portrayed by Canadian actress and singer Chattrisse Dolabaille, and Timbaland will be portrayed by actor Izaak Smith.

The issue here is that Dolabaille is a petite, exotic-looking woman with a light-skin complexion.

Smith is also lighter than Timbaland and has a much smaller build than the mega-producer.

While both Timbaland and Elliott have shed a few pounds since the ’90s, they were both of a heavier build during the time they were working with Aaliyah. This is causing some fans to question the integrity of the film’s casting decisions once again.

Missy Elliott and Timbaland casting Aaliyah biopic

Source: The Wrap

The casting announcement also adds more fuel to the debate regarding racism and colorism in Hollywood.

“So y’all jus gon make Missy 11 shades lighter for the movie #ornah,” one user tweeted along with a side-by-side image of Elliot and Dolabaille.

Another tweet read, “Ain’t nothing light skinned and curly haired about Missy.”

While it does seem as if the actress’s hair will be straightened for the film, it is still evident that she doesn’t have much likeness to the hip-hop star.

Neither Timbaland nor Elliott has publicly expressed their feelings about who was picked to portray them.

This comes shortly after Nickelodeon star Alexandra Shipp was cast to replace Zendaya in portraying Aaliyah.

While Zendaya did have a slight resemblance to the R&B star, there were concerns about her experience acting as well as her singing abilities.

To add to all the controversy, Aaliyah’s family is not very supportive of the Wendy Williams-executive-produced film, and dedicated Aaliyah fans have already expressed their disappointment in the biopic.

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