Sia under fire for casting Maddie Ziegler as autistic teen in movie - Dexerto

Sia under fire for casting Maddie Ziegler as autistic teen in movie

Published: 20/Nov/2020 21:43 Updated: 21/Nov/2020 15:16

by Virginia Glaze


Australian singer and songwriter Sia is facing intense backlash from critics after casting popular TikTok creator Maddie Ziegler as an autistic teenager in her upcoming film “Music.”

Sia is a well-known name in the world of pop music; hailed for such hits as ‘Chandelier’ and ‘Titanium,’ Sia has become a huge sensation in the industry, and now, she’s taking her talents to the silver screen.

Sia has written and directed her very own feature film, named “Music,” which features an autistic character by the same name and her half-sister, Zu.

Despite her excitement around the project (which also stars Kate Hudson), it seems that Sia is instead being met with a wave criticism for her decision to cast Maddie Ziegler for the role of the movie’s autistic teen.


Ziegler is a huge star on TikTok, who boasts over 19 million followers on the viral video app. It’s not her follower count that has critics talking, though; instead, it’s the fact that Ziegler is a non-autistic person playing the role of an autistic character.

Many commenters have taken issue with the casting, feeling that only autistic people should play the role of an autistic person, even noting that many autistic actors would have happily filled the role on short-notice.

“I love Maddie Ziegler, don’t get me wrong,” one fan said of Sia’s movie. “But you need to consult actual autistic people and have autistic people play autistic people.”


Sia herself has responded to the matter in several posts, claiming that she felt it was “more compassionate to use Maddie” than an autistic actor and that she “did try” to cast them for her film. She also stated that she performed three years of research for the movie and had autistic people advising her throughout production.

“Casting someone at her level of functioning was cruel, not kind, so I made the executive decision that we would do our best to lovingly represent the community,” she said of the matter, referring to Ziegler’s character.

However, others have noted that some of Sia’s responses are less than “compassionate,” with the star responding to one critic with “Maybe you’re just a bad actor” when they claimed they would have offered to play Ziegler’s part.


Although Sia’s “Music” isn’t set to debut until 2021, although it seems the tone of its release has already been decided among viewers who feel the autistic community has been wholly disrespected by her casting decision.