Australian artist Sia recently found herself in the hot seat after revealing the trailer for her movie, “Music.” She tweeted, “The news you’ve been waiting for!” The movie is set to release in February 2021.
Maddie Ziegler, mostly known for her run on Dance Moms, is a non-disabled actor who portrays a teen with autism. The young teen conveys her feelings through a tablet.
According to Sia, the character is based on her neuro-atypical friend who found it stressful to be nonverbal. The controversy comes in from several activists and fans in the autistic community that found the casting to be misrepresentative since Ziegler is not an autistic actor. They thought it was offensive and questionable that Sia did not just hire disabled actors to tell their stories.
Despite the valid criticism, Sia stuck to her guns and defended both her movie and the casting of Ziegler. Sia claimed and believes that hiring Ziegler to play this role carries more compassion because she had already tried to work with “a beautiful young girl nonverbal on the spectrum and she found it unpleasant and stressful. So that’s why I cast Maddie.”
Sia was notably upset on Twitter and was lashing out on people criticizing her movie. A person tweeted her, “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. #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs” and Sia’s response was to tell them that maybe they’re just a bad actor.
She ended the tirade by asking people to watch it before making any further judgments because her heart was in the right place. She feels she put forth the proper research, claimed that the movie is a love letter to the autism community and their caregivers, and says she hired thirteen people on the spectrum.