After copping criticism for casting her neurotypical pal Maddie Ziegler as an autistic teen in Music, Sia has defended her decision.
When Sia first announced that she was directing her first movie, she probably didn’t anticipate the amount of backlash she would get for it.
So just to recap what’s gone on so far: Sia announced that she was making her directorial debut in 2021 with Music, which is about an autistic teen played by her neurotypical friend Maddie Ziegler, a decision that prompted a lot of criticism from the internet.
Now the pop superstar has doubled down on casting Ziegler for the role of Music in Music.
Chatting to 10 News First (via Yahoo!) about the film, Sia was asked about the criticism over why she didn’t cast someone on the autism spectrum to portray the low-functioning autistic teen Music and she defended the decision, explaining it was impossible to find someone of Music’s “level of functioning” to pull off the film’s elaborate dancing sequences.
“There is no way I could have used someone of [Music’s] level of functioning to play her,” says Sia. “I also needed a dancer, for [the character’s] imaginary life,” Sia added, referring to various dream sequences in the film.
“It’s not a documentary. Kate [Hudson, who play’s Music’s half-sister] isn’t a drug dealer and Leslie Odom Jr. [who plays Ebo] isn’t from Ghana.”
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The first-time film director says she “actually tried working with a beautiful young girl nonverbal on the spectrum” but “found it unpleasant and stressful” because the character as written was too difficult to portray. It is due to this reason that Sia cast Ziegler in the role.
Having said that, Sia says she made the movie with nothing but love for her neuro-atypical friend whom Music is based on.
“The character is based completely on my neuro-atypical friend,” Sia added. “He found it too stressful being nonverbal, and I made this movie with nothing but love for him and his mother.”
For what it’s worth, a few folks in the Brag office have actually seen Music and were brought to tears by the movie so take that as you will.
If you don’t really care for all the controversy over Sia casting Maddie Ziegler and just want to watch Music without any of the fuss then you’re in luck because we’re giving away a bunch of double passes to the movie, which is scheduled to come out on Thursday, January 14th.