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Lifetime has wrangled its first big name for the network’s highly contested Aaliyah biopic by casting Elise Neal.

The “All Of Us” star has been tapped to play none other than Gladys Knight in “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B”, reports. Gladys and Aaliyah were related through marriage because she tied the knot with Aaliyah’s uncle Brian Hankerson in 1974.

Although the marriage did not last, the relationship gave Aaliyah a major in to the music industry. She even performed with Gladys for a five-night run in Las Vegas at the age of 11.

Lifetime has made some serious casting misses with the Aaliyah biopic after Zendaya left the production in June. She backed out amid vehement criticism that she didn’t look enough like Aaliyah to take on the part because she wasn’t black enough. Alexandra Shipp took over the role not long after Zendya’s exit, and fans weren’t as opposed to her casting.

The network gave fans more reason to blast them by picking Chattrisse Dolabaille and Izaak Smith to play Missy Elliott and Timbaland, respectively. If they thought Zendaya was aesthetically inaccurate for Aaliyah, then Lifetime was waaay off-base with these castings.

Elise has not spoken out on the role at this time, but she may be the closest that Lifetime has come to getting it right.


Elise Neal Cast For Lifetime’s Aaliyah Biopic & You’ll Never Guess Who She’s Playing  was originally published on