Sia has decided to keep Maddie Ziegler to play an autistic teen in her directorial debut film Music. She appeared on Australia’s 10 New First defending her decision on why she did not pick an autistic actor.
The Singer received criticism from the autism community after announcing that the Dance Mom alum would be featured as a low-functioning autistic teen named Music who is being taken care of by her half-sister Zu played by Kate Hudson. Many found the decision to keep Ziegler who is not autistic, as a bad and ‘ignorant’ look.
“There is no way I could have used someone of Music’s level of functioning to play her” stated Sia during the interview. In the trailer, you can see the character goes through different dream sequences with colorful outfits and a lot of dancing. “I also needed a dancer for the character’s imaginary life.” Sia wanted to make it clear that this was not a documentary, “Kate isn’t a drug dealer and Leslie Odom Jr. isn’t from Ghana.”
Twitter users criticized Sia for the lack of representation in which she replied, “I cast 13 neuroatypical people, three trans folk, and not as f**king prostitutes or drug addicts but as doctors, nurses and singers.” She added that the movie had 13 people who were on the spectrum. To add fuel to the fire, Sia then said that if she had cast an autistic person for this role, it would have been cruel and not kind to the person, this was not received well by autism advocacy groups.
Music is set to come out on January 14, 2021.