Tuesday, February 14, 2017

28 Days Of Black Women In Horror: Aaliyah

Aaliyah (1979-2001)

Queen Of The Damned (2002)

Aaliyah Dana Haughton was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Detroit. She got her first major exposure appearing on the syndicated television series Star Search where she awed the audience with her amazing voice and talent, singing "My Funny Valentine." At age 11, she sang with Gladys Knight in a five-night stint in Las Vegas. Withdrawing from the celebrity scene for a few years, Aaliyah lived the life of a normal teenage girl, attending Detroit's Performing Arts High School, where she majored in dance. Her debut album Age Ain't Nothing But A Number scored several hits, specifically "Back and Forth." During her senior year, Aaliyah went on to record her second album, One In A Million which featured the songwriting talents of major R&B producers/writers Missy Elliott and Tim Mosley. The album was a major success and sealed Aaliyah's fame forever.

Film producer Joel Silver, producer of The Matrix (1999) and other major action films asked Aaliyah to audition for a role in an romance/action film, Romeo Must Die (2000). With her determination and sex appeal, Aaliyah won Silver over and was cast in her first major film role. Romeo Must Die (2000) was a hit at the box office. This film led to her being cast as one of the stars of the film based on Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned (2002) in which Aaliyah played Queen Akasha. She was nominated for best Villain at the MTV Movie Awards 2002. She inked a deal to be in the two sequels to the major box office hit, The Matrix (1999), The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003).

During the busy schedule of her film career, Aaliyah took time to record her third album, the self-titled Aaliyah. Debuting at number two on the Billboard charts, Aaliyah was a sales success. Aaliyah's short-lived, but brilliant career, was a true success story for a young Black woman who went against all odds to be herself in an industry where originality is scarce. Truly missed by her family, friends, and fans, her music and film contributions will live forever. It's no wonder that her name means 'highest, most ex-halted one; the best' in Hebrew. She had achieved so much in her twenty-two years.

On Aaliyah

The first thing I think of when Aaliyah comes to mind was her interest in horror. She once told a journalist that Stephen King was her favorite writer. She liked the feeling of being scared. One of her favorite movies was Silence Of The Lambs. Aaliyah was a horror fan, and when I first read about this online in the ice ages of the internet, I was so hyped that another Black girl liked this "weird stuff" too.

An R&B/pop singer, an inspiration for youth fashion, and a dancer, she never appeared to be someone you could define so narrowly. I vividly remember the night I heard of her passing, and I woke up the next morning pretty sad about it. And I realize now why, especially in the wake of so many celebrity deaths seeming to hit the world in such a short amount of time. Aaliyah helped me, with an admittance of some of the things she enjoys, get on the path of being okay in my own skin. That horror was for Black girls to enjoy too. And I'm further saddened by all of the opportunities that could've been for her as a budding actress that could've transformed into a genre starlet.

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