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Zendaya Coleman Defends Aaliyah Role

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Jun 18, 2014 | 8:48am EDT

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Zendaya Coleman has brushed off the fierce criticism over her casting as late R&B singer Aaliyah, insisting she "can't please everybody".

The Disney star has been hired to play the title role in new TV biopic Aaliyah: Princess of R&B for America's Lifetime network, but her casting has been met with a backlash from fans. Aaliyah's relatives have also distanced themselves from the project, but they urged supporters not to be so harsh on the teenage star.

Coleman, 17, has now reacted to the furore over her new role, and has assured Aaliyah's devoted fans that she aims to honour the More Than A Woman star's legacy.

She says, "I really want it to be perfect for her and show young people what she was able to do and what she accomplished... If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself... I can't please everybody... What I can do is work really hard and you know, just continue to show her legacy... I feel like she grew up so young and she grew up in the industry... and she just had to deal with so much. I connect with that."

Shooting on the TV biopic is expected to begin over the summer (14). Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001 aged just 22.

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