Sia Responds to Backlash Against Her Casting of Maddie Ziegler as Autistic Character in New Film
Sia addressed the social media criticism that the trailer for her upcoming film, Music, is facing due to its portrayal of autism.
According to Variety, the "Chandelier" hit-maker cast her frequent collaborator, Maddie Ziegler, as a character who is "non-verbal and she has a little echolalia who can repeat what you say to her, but she doesn’t generate her own language." People immediately questioned by Sia would choose a non-autistic actor to portray someone with autism instead of casting a person who is actually autistic.
On Friday (November 20), Sia responded to the backlash. "Grrrrrrrrrr. F--kity f--k why don’t you watch my film before you judge it? FURY," she tweeted, claiming that she did three years of research to create the film and based the character in question directly off one of her close friends.
Sia also explained why she didn't cast someone who is actually neuroatypical in the role. "I did try," she tweeted. "It felt more compassionate to use Maddie. That was my call."
When asked to further explain what she meant, she wrote, "I’ve never referred to music as disabled. Special abilities is what I’ve always said, and casting someone at her level of functioning was cruel, not kind, so I made the executive decision that we would do our best to lovingly represent the community."
When a Twitter user questioned what she meant by the "cruel, not kind," comment, Sia responded, "She [the neuroatypical actress] found it extremely stressful and overwhelming."
"I cast thirteen neuroatypical people, three trans folk, and not as f--king prostitutes or drug addicts but as doctors, nurses and singers," Sia continued. "F--king sad nobody’s even seen the dang movie. My heart has always been in the right place. "
Sia also responded to a user who claimed that she and other autistic actors offered to join the project on short notice. "Maybe you're just a bad actor," Sia replied, adding in a separate tweet, "F--king bulls--t. You have no f--king idea because you weren’t there and haven’t seen the movie."
See these tweets and more, below.