Sia further discussed her decision to have Maddie Ziegler play a character with autism in her new movie “Music” during an interview with Australia’s “10 News First”.
After a teaser for the flick was released, many took to social media to criticize Sia for casting Ziegler as a character with autism even though she isn’t autistic.
Sia told journalist Angela Bishop when asked about the backlash: “There is no way I could have used someone of Maddie’s level of functioning to play her.
“I also needed a dancer, for [the character’s] imaginary life,” she added of the 18-year-old.
A synopsis for the film reads, “Zu [Kate Hudson] is newly sober when she receives news that she is to become the sole guardian of her half-sister named Music [Ziegler], a young girl on the autism spectrum. The film explores two of Sia’s favourite themes: finding your voice and creating family.”
Sia insisted during the interview: “It’s not a documentary. Kate isn’t a drug dealer and Leslie Odom Jr. [who plays Ebo] isn’t from Ghana.”
This isn’t the first time the musician has addressed the criticism, with her also replying to numerous social media users last month.
“I spent three f**king years researching, I think that’s why I’m so f**king bummed,” she wrote about how she was feeling about the backlash.
One user also shared, “Several autistic actors, myself included, responded to these tweets. We all said we could have acted in it on short notice. These excuses are just that – excuses. The fact of the matter is zero effort was made to include anyone who is actually autistic.”
Sia quipped back, “Maybe you’re just a bad actor.”
Sia was asked about her casting decision in an interview with “The Project” over the weekend.
“I realized it wasn’t ableism — I mean, it is ableism, I guess, as well — but it’s actually nepotism, because I can’t do a project without her, I don’t want to. I wouldn’t make art if it didn’t include her,” she said on the Australian talk show.
Sia added that Ziegler was concerned about the backlash.
“She cried on the first day of rehearsals and she was really scared. She just said, ‘I don’t want anyone to think I’m making fun of them,'” Sia shared. “And I, bald-facedly, said ‘I won’t let that happen.’ And last week I realized I couldn’t really protect her from that, which I thought I could.”
She continued, “… I’ve realized there are some things I can’t protect her from, as much as I try. I guess that’s like any mom or bonus mom would say.”