Sia faces backlash after casting Maddie Ziegler as an autistic teen in upcoming movie
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Sia faces backlash after casting Maddie Ziegler as an autistic teen in upcoming movie

Sia has hit back at critics who slammed her for casting Maddie Ziegler as an autistic teenager in her new movie “Music.”

FILE – In this Dec. 7, 2014 file photo, singer Sia Furler attends the world premiere of “Annie” at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

The trailer for her directorial debut dropped on Thursday, with her protege, 18-year-old dancer Maddie, taking the main role as a teenager with special needs, with Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom Jr. also joining the cast.

Sia’s casting decision drew criticism from disability activists and autistic creatives, but the star hit back by claiming she had cast “neurotypical” actors in the film and had done her research.

“I cast thirteen neurotypical people, three trans folk, and not as f**king prostitutes or drug addicts but as doctors, nurses and singers. F**king sad nobody’s even seen the dang movie. My heart has always been in the right place,” she tweeted.

When asked, “Did you do any research or consult the community at all? It’s very condescending to say it would be cruel to consult a disabled actor,” she responded: “Duh. I spent three f**king years researching, I think that’s why I’m so f**king bummed.”

The musician later tweeted: “Grrrrrrrrrr. F**kity f**k why don’t you watch my film before you judge it? FURY.”

Sara Gibbs, a British comedy writer with autism, a developmental condition that leads to anxiety in social situations, difficulty in communication, and atypical behavior, explained why she was worried about the film on the social media site.

“Every time a non-autistic person makes a project about us for art, it sets us back in numerous ways,” she wrote. “The first is obvious – that it inevitably, no matter how hard it tries, mistranslates the experience of being autistic. This is harmful to us because it puts disinformation out into the world.”

She, like other social media users, also criticized the Chandelier hitmaker for taking on a project that would block autistic creatives from realizing theirs, and for working with Autism Speaks, a U.S. charity many people with the disorder reject as harmful.

– Cover Media

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