Before she took her final bow, Aaliyah was many things, including an actress, a singer, as well as model. She exhibited great talents in the entertainment industry but her glory days were cut short when she just 22. Though there are a few projects found under Aaliyah filmography, the talented performer was more of a singer during her lifetime.
At the age of ten, Aaliyah was already performing with industry greats like Gladys Knight. She signed with Jive Records and Blackground Records at the age of 12. Her debut album Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number sold 3 million copies in the United States. The musical piece was also certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Her second album, One in a Million (1996), released by Blackground and Atlantic Records, performed even better than the first. It was in 2000 that Aaliyah appeared in her first movie Romeo Must Die. She also contributed to the soundtrack of the film with her Try Again hit which went on to break a Billboard record. The track also won her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocalist.
Following her appearance in Romeo Must Die, Aaliyah joined the cast of Queen of the Damned and also dropped her self-titled third studio album in July 2001. This would be her last album as she died the same year, precisely on August 25, 2001, as a result of a plane crash. Aaliyah and eight others were returning from shooting the music video for Rock the Boat when their plane crashed in the Bahamas. Perhaps, the Aaliyah filmography we have today would have been booming with a long list of blockbusters if her life did not end at such a productive age. However, there are a few of her movies and videos to look out for and a few of them were released after she passed.
Below is a highlight of the projects under Aaliyah filmography ranked from the best to the worst.
Aaliyah Filmography, Movies and TV Shows
1. Romeo Must Die (2000)
Though the ratings from authority sites are not encouraging, Romeo Must Dies is applauded by audiences as a great movie with a good storyline and captivating action scenes. Released on 22 March 2000 (USA) and directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, this American action film is a martial-arts take on Shakespeare’s famous tragedy (Romeo and Juliet). The storyline follows an ex-cop jailed for a crime he is innocent of, he breaks out in order to avenge his brother’s death. This revenge resolution takes him to America where he meets and falls in love with Trish O’Day who offers to help him in his mission to find the people behind his brother’s death. A twisted turn of events sees Trish’s father and her boyfriend at war as the former knows too much about the death of the later’s brother.
Aaliyah starred alongside Jet Li who played the lead role of Han Sing with Aaliyah appearing as Trish O’Day. Other stars on the cast list are Isaiah Washington (Mac), Russell Wong (Kai), Anthony Anderson (Maurice), DMX (Silk) and many others. IMDb rated it at 6.1/10 while Rotten Tomatoes gave it 33% and TV Guide placed it at 52%. Nevertheless. 92% of Google users liked the film. It further grossed 91 million USD against a budget of 25 million USD.
2. Queen of the Damned (2002)
The 2002 horror film directed by Michael Rymer is based on Anne Rice’s third project on The Vampire Chronicles franchise – The Queen of the Damned. With Aaliyah taking the lead role, the film chronicles the legendary vampire Lestat who reinvented himself as a star in the contemporary American music community. The queen of all vampires, Akasha, is awakened by Lestat’s music and inspires her desire to make him her king.
Queen of the Damned was released on 22 February in the United States but didn’t do very well at the box office. It grossed 45.5 million USD against a budget of $35.5 million. Ratings were also poor as IMDb rated it at 5.3/10, 17% on Rotten Tomatoes and other poor figures on other sites. Aaliyah starred as Queen Akasha, alongside Stuart Townsend as Lestat de Lioncourt, Marguerite Moreau as Jesse Reeves, Vincent Perez as Marius de Romanus and Lena Olin as Maharet, among others. The movie is among the projects under Aaliyah filmography released after the death of the star.
3. The 74th Annual Academy Awards (2002)
Hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, the 74th Annual Academy Awards recognized Aaliyah as one of the industry bigshots who couldn’t make the event because they were dead at the time. The 2001 biographical film A Beautiful Mind was one of the biggest winners while Aaliyah and twenty-four other stars, including Jack Lemmon, Harold Russell, Julia Phillips, and Kim Stanley, who had passed on were honored with the annual in Memoriam tribute which was presented by Kevin Spacey. Though no award was given to her, the Try Again hitmaker was recognized as one of the best the industry has seen.
4. Aaliyah: Try Again (2000)
Written by Static Major and Timothy Mosley, and produced by Timbaland, Try Again is Aaliyah’s most famous musical project. It was released on 22nd February in 2000 and also served as the soundtrack of the singer’s first film Romeo Must Die. She also contributed to other songs in the film but Try Again was the one released as the lead single of Romeo Must Die: The Album in 2000. The piece was originally written as a motivational song targeted at young people but when Barry Hankerson heard it, he insisted on making it a love song.
Following the release of an accompanying music video, Aaliyah became a global sensation. The 4:49-minute long track was well received by fans and critics alike. Her vocal styling was applauded, though the production was received with mixed feelings. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the track debuted at number fifty-eight but gradually climbed to number one by June 17, 2000. It peaked at the number one spot on the Hot 100 Airplay chart, took the number three spot on the Mainstream Top 40 chart and number four on the Hot R&B Singles & Tracks chart. The song also did remarkably well in other countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia.
The music video for Try Again which received a lot of TV airplay was shot at Hollywood Center Studios with Jet Li opening the floor by entering a hall of mirrors while Aaliyah comes in, wearing a revealing low-cut bra and tight low-rise leather pants. The video was directed by Wayne Isham while Fatima Robinson took care of the choreography. The success of the video is evident in the seventh position it took on BET’s Top 100 Videos of 2000 and fifteenth on Channel V’s Retro Top 20: 2000. For her performance in the video, Aaliyah took the number 29 spot on Channel V’s Top 40: Ladies of the 2000s and 41st on Channel Max’s Top 100 Sexiest Women.
5. Aaliyah: Rock the Boat (2001)
As part of her 2001 self-titled album (Aaliyah), Rock the Boat is the last project Aaliyah carried out before her sudden and untimely death. Written by Static, Eric Seats and Rapture Stewart, the musical piece was released posthumously in January 2002, following the death of the American star the previous year. The song peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early January and remained there for twenty-five weeks. It was also nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards. Aaliyah was largely praised for her performance in the track. Her tentative and breathy vocals caught the attention of critics who asserted that she brought in a sense of sultriness to the song. The music video for Rock the Boat opens with Aaliyah on the beach, her back to the ocean. Other scenes show her either dancing or swimming underwater.
Following its release, the song was nominated for Video of the Year and Viewer’s Choice at the 2002 BET Awards. It also made other nomination lists including the 2002 Billboard-AURN R&B/Hip-Hop Awards (for Top R&B/Hip-Hop Single and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Single – Airplay), the 44th Annual Grammy Awards (for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance), the 19th annual MTV Video Music Awards (for Best R&B Video), the 2002 NAACP Image Awards (for Outstanding Music Video). It also won a few awards, including Best R&B/Soul Single, Female, at the 2002 Soul Train Music Awards, as well as Best R&B/Soul Single and Best R&B/Soul or Rap Song of the Year at the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards.
Aaliyah and some Virgin Records America employees flew to the Bahamas on two flights on August 23, 2001, to complete the shooting of the video for Rock the Boat. Instead of August 26, when she was supposed to go back home, she left the Bahamas a day earlier because she was through with her business there. On that fateful day – August 25, 2001, the artist and her crew were eager to return to the United States and ignored the pilot’s warning that the plane they chartered was too small for the load they brought with them.
Shortly after takeoff, the plane crashed and Aaliyah and her crew, including hairstylist Eric Foreman, Anthony Dodd, security guard Scott Gallin, make-up artist Christopher Maldonado, and many others died. An eyewitness said the crash was a horrifying sight with the plane shattered to pieces and the seats thrown to different locations. The 2001 crash put an end to what would have been an interesting Aaliyah filmography.