Sia Criticized for Casting Maddie Ziegler as Autistic Lead in New Film

After revealing the first teaser trailer for her forthcoming directorial debut, Music, Sia has received backlash over casting a neurotypical actress as the autistic lead character.

The film revolves around the character of Music, a young girl with nonverbal autism, who finds herself in the care of her older half-sister, the newly sober Zu (Kate Hudson). However, many people were not happy with Sia’s decision to cast her longtime collaborator Maddie Ziegler as Music rather than an autistic actress.

Responding to critics on Twitter, Sia wrote: “I actually tried working with a beautiful young girl non verbal on the spectrum and she found it unpleasant and stressful. So that’s why I cast Maddie.” In a separate tweet, she added that “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.”

She also stated that she “cast thirteen neuroatypical people, three trans folk, and not as fucking prostitutes or drug addicts but as doctors, nurses and singers. Fucking sad nobody’s even seen the dang movie. My heart has always been in the right place.”

However, several autistic actors asserted that they were available and willing to work on the project, and that they were subsequently ignored. Sia responded to one such actor by belittling them, saying, “maybe you’re just a bad actor”

You can check out the trailer for Music and read some of the back-and-forth below. Earlier this week, Sia announced a new album accompanying the film titled Music – Songs From and Inspired by the Motion Picture and shared a new song, ‘Hey Boy’.

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