Sia Gets Criticized for Casting Maddie Ziegler as an Autistic Character

Sia showed the trailer for her directorial feature debut Music, and it is a story about an autistic teenager who will be portrayed by Maddie Ziegler. However, the trailer was met with backlash because Maddie, who is a neurotypical performer, is portraying an autistic character. On social media, she was quickly criticized for not picking a disabled actor for the part. Many found it offensive toward people with disabilities, and some even called it sickening.

Sia Responded to Most of the Criticism

Singer/Songwriter Sia at an event
Sia Gets Criticized for Casting Maddie Ziegler as an Autistic Character

Disapproving comments continued to appear about Sia’s choice, and some pointed out that it is important for people with disabilities to appear on the big screen. Others saw problems with the way the character was represented. Sia made sure to respond to the criticism and explained her casting process. Apparently, she first attempted to hire a nonverbal performer, but the actor felt stressed and unpleasant, which led her to offer the role to Maddie. Sia said it felt like the more compassionate choice, and it was her call.

Sia Apparently Has Many Other Neuroatypical Folks Involved in the Movie

Maddie Ziegler
Sia Gets Criticized for Casting Maddie Ziegler as an Autistic Character

Apparently, Sia does not mind working with neuroatypical folks and has many involved throughout the production. She also said that the intentions of everyone in the film are good, loving, and meaningful, and pleaded with her fans to watch the movie before judging it. Still, the autistic community responded negatively, and some criticized Sia further for casting a non-disabled actress, going so far as to call it hurtful.

Several autism advocacy groups also stated their opinion on social media, saying that Sia was wrong about the casting. Some stated that there is a lot to be concerned about the casting and the messages the film will send about autism. The fact that Sia referred to casting a nonspeaking autistic person/actor, as being ‘cruel,’ was pointed out as particularly alarming because it suggests autistic people do not understand their own lives and cannot tell their own stories.