Sia Admits Casting Maddie Ziegler In ‘Music’ Over An Autistic Actor Was ‘Nepotism’

Since November, Sia has been dealing with heavy criticism following the release of her film Music. Much of the backlash is focused on Maddie Ziegler, who plays a character named Music, who appears to be on the autistic spectrum. Viewers were not happy with the casting choice, as many felt a “disabled” actor would have been a better choice. Sia defended her casting choice and revealed that she attempted to work with a nonverbal girl on the spectrum, but the young woman found it “unpleasant” and “stressful.” Once again, the pop singer took a moment to respond to the backlash during a recent appearance on the Australian TV show The Sunday Project.

“I realized it wasn’t ableism,” she said of her choice to cast Ziegler. “I mean, it is ableism I guess as well, but it’s actually nepotism because I can’t do a project without her. I don’t want to. I wouldn’t make art if it didn’t include her.” After calling herself Ziegler’s “bonus mom,” Sia revealed that there were concerns from the Music actor that viewers would perceive her role as “making fun” of autistic people. “I bold-facedly said, ‘I won’t let that happen,’” she said. Unfortunately that is exactly what the response has been to the film.

“Last week I realized I couldn’t really protect her from that, which I thought I could,” the singer said. “We sent it off to the Child Mind Institute and she received 100 percent as performance accuracy. I realize that there are some things I can’t protect her from as much as I try.”

You can watch her appearance on The Sunday Project above.

Sia is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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