Alexandra Shipp on Playing Aaliyah: 'It Was Scary'

by 4:52 PM PDT, October 06, 2014
Playing Alexandra Shipp on Playing Aaliyah: 'It Was Scary'

Nickelodeon star Alexandra Shipp stepped into a ring of controversy when she took on the role of Aaliyah in the Lifetime biopic, Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, and she opened up about the process to ET's Kevin Frazier.

VIDEO: Alexandra Shipp is Aaliyah in First Teaser for Lifetime Biopic

"It was scary," said Shipp, 23, who had previously appeared in Nickelodeon's House of Anubis and the TV movie Drumline 2 opposite Nick Cannon. "But I knew that I had to do it. Something in me was just like, 'You have to do this. You're going to love this experience more than anything.'"

Before losing her life at 22 in a tragic plane crash, Aaliyah sold more than 24 million albums.

Several obstacles almost prevented the movie from ever being made. Disney star Zendaya Coleman, the original actress cast as Aaliyah, dropped out of the project after saying that it "wasn't a good choice for [her]."

"After actually starting the project, I feel like there were certain things that were missing," Coleman told ET at the 2014 BET Awards. "And things that weren't 100 percent taken care of. And I feel like, if I'm going to portray one of my idols, and someone I feel so important and strongly about, it has to be done right, and it has to be done 120 percent."

VIDEO: Why Zendaya Turned Down Aaliyah Biopic

Additionally, the project allegedly met friction with Aaliyah's parents, as they reportedly tried to stop the movie from happening, and Lifetime wasn't granted the rights to use Aaliyah's actual music. (Iggy Azalea's "Goddess" is featured in the trailer, kicking off still more criticism.)

The inability to use the original music may have worked out in Shipp's favor. She got to sing all the songs in the movie, and judging by the preview she gave Kevin Frazier, she does an amazing job.

"Don't you worry, boo. I deliver," Shipp said about her vocals.

Watch the video to hear what Shipp had to say about Aaliyah's infamous marriage to R. Kelly when she was 15 and he was 27. Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B debuts November 15.