Sia broke her silence and defended her upcoming new movie Music after receiving criticism over its casting.
According to Variety, the movie will revolve around the story of Zu, who has a strained relationship with her family. She, later on, becomes the only guardian to her half-sister, Music. Her half-sister is a teenager on the autism spectrum.
However, when the trailer was launched, it did not go down well with people as they began to criticize. Viewers expressed their disappointment of finding Maddie Ziegler, Sia’s longtime collaborator, being cast as the autistic character instead of an actor who is autistic.
One user expressed their fury and wrote how unacceptable it is and that there can be no excuses. The user wrote that Sia should know better than “to allow able-bodied and neurotypical to represent the disabled community”.
Sia, however, responded to the backlash and explained that she had initially tried working with a beautiful young girl with a nonverbal spectrum. She explained that the actress found it stressful and unpleasant after which she cast her collaborator, Maddie.
But the criticism did not stop, as viewers pointed out that she could have done more even if she was on short notice. “Hi! I’m an #ActuallyAutistic professional actress that could have been cast & hired on short notice,” another follower wrote.
“I once acted in a film the same day I was contacted. So this reasoning is 100 percent false. The fact is that they did not want to hire an actor with autism. #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs.”
The singer apologized for never having been introduced as she wrote that her character was low functioning. She shared that after attempting to work with autistic actors, “they” suggested her to go for Maddie.
“My heart has always been in the right place.”
The criticism continued as several autistic actors responded to the tweets and one user said, 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.”
The singer responded saying she might be a bad actor and stated there are thirteen people on the spectrum in the movie. She further began to defend her project as she shared that she cast thirteen neuroatypical people, three trans folk as doctors, nurses, and singers.
Sia wrote, “F–king sad nobody’s even seen the dang movie. My heart has always been in the right place.” The singer was accused of ableism as one follower questioned if she made efforts to do any research or consult the community. She wrote that she spent three years researching and that’s why she was so bummed.
The Chandelier singer wrote, Autism Speaks “came on board long after the film was finished, four years in fact.” She continued as she said she had no idea it was such a polarizing group. “Again, I worked very closely with two neuroatypical friends,” she also wrote. “I learned so much and wanted to share it with the world.”
However, Sia also had few supporters who told the singer to ignore the critics. One user wrote that they are a disabled person and not offended by the premise of her film. The user said he has been criticized for his opinion by the disabled community but has decided to judge it based on its merit.
The singer still urged fans to watch it and described it as a beautiful movie. She wrote that the movie will do more good than harm. Sia also wrote that if she is wrong, she will pay for it for the rest of her life. The movie also features Kate Hudson and Leslie dom Jr. and will be released next year.