Sia Opens Up About Being on the Autism Spectrum, Reflects on Music Film Controversy


Sia, the famous singer and director of the film “Music,” recently shared a personal revelation – she is on the autism spectrum. This comes several years after she faced criticism for casting a neurotypical actor, Maddie Ziegler, as an autistic teenager in her directorial debut.

During an episode of Rob Has a Podcast, Sia opened up about her journey, stating that she is on the spectrum and is in recovery. She expressed her appreciation for those who are willing to be different and praised them for embracing their uniqueness. Sia emphasized the importance of being open about one’s true self, breaking free from shame and secrecy.

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In 2020, Sia received significant backlash when the trailer for “Music” was released. The film tells the story of a woman named Zu, played by Kate Hudson, who becomes the guardian of her half-sister, Music, portrayed by Maddie Ziegler, a teenage girl on the autism spectrum. Critics, including the National Autistic Society, accused Sia of ableism and argued that an autistic actor should have been chosen for the role.

Initially, Sia defended her casting decisions, explaining that the story was inspired by her neuroatypical friend who struggled with being nonverbal. She stated that she made the film with love for him and his mother. Sia also mentioned that she had cast 13 neuroatypical individuals in various roles in the film. However, scenes depicting the use of restraints on the character played by Ziegler sparked further controversy.

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In response to the criticism, Sia offered an apology and promised to remove the scenes with restraints from future versions of the film. She acknowledged the importance of listening to the concerns raised by the autism community and expressed a willingness to engage in dialogue about representation and inclusivity.

The intense scrutiny and criticism took a toll on Sia’s mental health, leading to a relapse and her seeking treatment in rehab. She credited Kathy Griffin with helping her through this difficult period and expressed gratitude for Griffin’s support and friendship.

Kate Hudson, who played the lead role in “Music,” also addressed the criticisms surrounding the film. While acknowledging the importance of representation and the need for dialogue about neurodivergent characters, she defended the film, highlighting the love and sensitivity that went into its creation. Hudson expressed her willingness to engage in conversations about representation and to learn from experts in the field.

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Sia’s revelation about being on the autism spectrum adds a personal dimension to the ongoing discussion about the casting choices in “Music.” It serves as a reminder of the importance of inclusive representation and respectful conversations about neurodiversity in the entertainment industry. Sia’s journey and the controversies surrounding the film highlight the need for greater understanding and collaboration to ensure accurate and authentic portrayals of neurodivergent individuals in media and entertainment.