Guess Who’s Cast to Play Gladys Knight in Aaliyah Biopic? Plus Other Cast Members Revealed

After much controversy, Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B” is still marching on, as they continue to fill the cast. is reporting that the network recently cast a big name actress to play the “Empress of Soul Gladys Knight”…and it’s actress Elise Neal!

In case you’re wondering why Gladys Knight would be in a film about Aaliyah, this is why: Knight was married to Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson, and the late singer gained much industry guidance from Knight, even performing with her aunt at age 11 during a stint in Las Vegas.

Will Neal’s casting may be the latest to spark an uproar? After fan disapproval for claiming she was “too lightskinned,” quit the film in June citing production issues, and was soon after replaced by Alexandra Shipp. Canadian actors Chattrisse Dolabaille and Izaak Smith were cast to play Missy Elliott and Timbaland, having some believe Dolabaille’s look may not fit with Missy Elliot’s portrayal.

Despite the Haughton family's disapproval, the film is slated to premeire in late 2014. According to IMDb, other actors cast in the film include Jackie Long (ATL) as R Kelly, Charles Dutton (Roc) as Barry Hankerson, Eugene Byrd (True Blood, Bones) as Jay Z, and Jermaine Crawford (The Wire) as Dame Dash.

Do you think Neal will be able to pull off Ms. Knight?