Aaliyah's family was understandably not pleased when she married to R. Kelly at 15 years old—he was 28. The new Lifetime biopic recreates the moment the late singer brought home her new husband. "You did what?!" asks Aaliyah's father (played by actor Sterling Jarvis). "Did you lie on the marriage license?" he asks.
In real life, Vibe Magazine later uncovered that, yes, Aaliyah (played by Alexandra Shipp in the biopic) did lie about her age. In a published marriage license, her age is listed as 18. The "marriage" lasted for about seven months, and was annuled by her parents in February 1995.
Talk show host Wendy Williams, who is the movie's executive producer, has said that it was important to portray the scandalous relationship in the film. Williams recalled telling Lifetime they had to “get this Aaliyah movie right.”
"I was very popular on the radio for Aaliyah’s rise and untimely death. I want to hear about R. Kelly… Don’t skate over it. This needs to be a big plot line,” she said.
Music critic Jim DeRogatis has found some issues with the film’s portrayal of Aaliyah and Kelly’s relationship. In a blog post, DeRogatis, who has covered Kelly's career extensively, writes that fans “deserve better than the sanitized, soft-pedaled version of her disturbing sexual relationship with Chicago producer R. Kelly when she was 14 and he was 27.”
DeRogatis adds that court documents show that the relationship was “one of abuse and victimization, far from the “puppy love” seen in Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B.”
As previously reported, Aaliyah’s family is not supportive of the film and is reportedly planning a biopic of their own.
Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B airs this Saturday at 8pm ET on Lifetime.
Will you be tuning in?