Aaliyah's Cousin: 'I Would Love for Zoe Saldana to Play Her'

Hankerson also speaks on the family's disapproval of the film and Zendaya's casting.

Posted: 06/26/2014 08:45 AM EDT

Confirming the speculation that Aaliyah's family is dissatisfied with the casting of 17-year-old Zendaya Coleman in the deceased singer's Lifetime biopic, her cousin, Jomo Hankerson, is adding Colombiana actress Zoe Saldana's name into the mix, stating that she is more suited to portray his departed relative.

Hankerson, who currently serves as president of Aaliyah's label Blackground Records, spoke on behalf of the Haughton-Hankerson family during an interview with V-103's Ryan Cameron. Expounding on the much talked about family disapproval of the Lifetime biopic, Hankerson reveals that the project "came out of the blue," with the family learning of it from a press release.

"The reason why we hadn't done something is because we haven't had the conversation with them [Aaliyah's mother and brother]," he said. "This Lifetime thing came out of the blue. We saw it when the press release was released when everybody else did."

When asked about his opinions of the late singer's music being re-recorded for the film, Hankerson said that he cannot imagine someone else singing her songs "as if she's Aaliyah," ultimately deeming it "unfathomable."

While this all seems to fall on the shoulders of former Disney darling Zendaya Coleman, don't expect the family to hold her at fault. Hankerson goes as far as to say that Aaliyah would be able to relate to the scrutiny that Coleman is currently facing due to her past controversial relationship with R&B star R. Kelly.

"Aaliyah went through a similar situation after the R. Kelly thing, so I hate to see a young woman go through the kind of backlash she's getting," he said. "She's [Zendaya] trying to get a job. It's not her. Our problem is with Lifetime and the way they did the project, and again, like I said, the platform."

Hankerson ended his segment by restating his belief that the "Rock the Boat" singer's story should be told on the big screen. He even suggested a personal casting recommendation.

"I would love to get Zoe Saldana [to play Aaliyah]," he said. "I think she can pull off the acting part of it, and she's obviously gorgeous and beautiful."

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(Photos from left: SIPA/WENN.com, Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

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