Sia says casting Maddie Ziegler over an autistic actor in her new film was 'nepotism'
INSIDER 2hrs ago
a close up of a flower: Sia performs onstage at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, broadcast on October 14, 2020 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images © Kevin Winter/Getty Images Sia performs onstage at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, broadcast on October 14, 2020 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images
  • Sia has again defended her decision to cast Maddie Ziegler as an autistic character in her new movie. 
  • The 45-year-old singer said Ziegler's casting wasn't ableism but was instead nepotism. 
  • She said: "I realized it wasn't ableism. I mean, it is ableism I guess as well, but it's actually nepotism because I can't do a project without her [Ziegler]. I don't want to. I wouldn't make art if it didn't include her."
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Sia has once again defended her controversial decision to cast Maddie Ziegler in her new movie "Music."

During an interview on the Australian TV show "The Sunday Project," the singer said that her decision to cast Ziegler in the film, which follows the story of a young girl on the autism spectrum, was not ableism but nepotism.

She said: "I realized it wasn't ableism. I mean, it is ableism I guess as well, but it's actually nepotism because I can't do a project without her [Ziegler]. I don't want to. I wouldn't make art if it didn't include her."

Ziegler, 18, first found fame aged eight on the reality TV show "Dance Moms" and has since enjoyed a long working relationship with Sia starring in several of her music videos including "Elastic Heart." and "Chandelier."

a person wearing a costume: Sia and Maddie Ziegler during a live performance. Getty © Getty Sia and Maddie Ziegler during a live performance. Getty

Sia continued to explain that Ziegler had expressed concerns on the first day of rehearsals for the film that some viewers could think her performance was "making fun" of autistic people. At the time, Sia said she assured Ziegler that she "won't let that happen" but the singer said she has come to realize that she cannot always project her collaborator.

"Last week I realized I couldn't really protect her from that, which I thought I could," she 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."

The 45-year-old singer released the first trailer for her directorial debut late last year. The film follows a young girl with autism (Ziegler) who is raised by her drug-dealing older sister (played by Kate Hudson). Quickly after the trailer was released, viewers took issue with the film continuing the trend of casting non-disabled actors in leading roles when the character has a disability.

Initially, Sia said that she had "tried working with a beautiful young girl" who was on the autism spectrum but said the girl found the experience "unpleasant and stressful," which is why Ziegler was ultimately cast.

But as the criticism of her decision grew, Sia took to Twitter and began an increasingly explicit Twitter thread where she responded to critics. In response to one autistic actor who said they would have "gladly acted in the movie" on short notice, Sia replied: "Maybe you're just a bad actor."

Watch the full interview on "The Sunday Project " down below:

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