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Sia Faces Backlash for Casting Maddie Ziegler as Character with Autism

Sia has recently faced backlash for casting actor Maddie Ziegler as a character with autism in her new film Music.

Many people responded with backlash that the casting decision was ableist and Sia should have casted an actor with autism to play the role.

When pressed as to why she did not cast an actor with disabilities, Sia responded saying she tried working with a non-verbal girl who is on the autism spectrum and the actor found it “unpleasant and stressful."

Sia also responded to comments saying, “Casting someone at (the character’s) level of functioning would be cruel, not kind, so I made the executive decision that we would do our best to lovingly represent the community.”

The National Autistic Society tweeted in response to Sia's remarks that there are “many talented autistic actors out there” before listing the names of some actors who starred in their film series about autism.

Others showed concern that the portrayal of the character is harmful to people with autism.

One user responded, “…I’d be interested to know what or who @maddieziegler studied to create her character? Her portrayal is a classic stereotypical INACCURATE description.”

Sia responded to backlash remarking that she did three years of research for the movie and created the film to bring more representation of people with autism to the industry.

She also experienced backlash for partnering with the organization Autism Speaks, which has faced criticism for its comments and what some see as dehumanizing people with autism.

Sia has angrily responded with strong language and implored people to watch the movie before they judge. However, the comments continue to pour in. Some, in favor of the star and her decisions, others criticizing her move.

Some push Sia to listen to the feedback, especially from the disability community.

One user commented, “Sia, autistic people are telling you the choices you made, particularly working with Autism Speaks and casting a non-disabled actress, are hurtful. You don’t get to tell them their hurt is invalid.”

Cara is a Sophomore at Mizzou studying Journalism and Political Science with a minor in Peace Studies. She loves journaling, handwritten letters and nature. You can find her listening to indie or worship music and slam poetry. Cara is also a Cincinnati, Ohio native and lover of Skyline Chili and Greater's Ice Cream.
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