The 45-year-old star has faced a huge backlash over her film because she cast Maddie Ziegler in the titular role of an autistic teenager, instead of someone neuroatypical, but she strongly believed before the criticism that she’d researched the project and represented the condition well.
She said: “I wasn’t able to talk to everybody that’s on the spectrum. So I thought I had done a really amazing job. I thought I had done thorough research, and it turned out there’s a whole lot of people that want the exact opposite.”
The ‘Chandelier’ hitmaker initially cast an actor with autism but the role proved too stressful for her so she brought her frequent collaborator into the project instead.
She told Sunday Times Culture magazine: “I got Maddie back on board. I’ve learnt I’m ableist.
“And while I may have spoken to 20 factions of the autism community, I didn’t speak to another 20 factions. I actually didn’t even know the other 20 existed.”
Sia has defended her decision to cast Maddie in the film on multiple occasions and previously insisted it was more “compassionate” to hire her than an autistic actress.
She tweeted: “I did try. It felt more compassionate to use Maddie. That was my call…
“I cast thirteen neuroatypical people, three trans folk, and not as f****** prostitutes or drug addicts but s as doctors, nurses and singers. F****** sad nobody’s even seen the dang movie. My heart has always been in the right place.(sic)”
And Sia also insisted she simply couldn’t work without Maddie.
She said: “I realised it wasn’t ableism.
“I mean, it is ableism I guess as well, but it’s actually nepotism because I can’t do a project without her. I don’t want to. I wouldn’t make art if it didn’t include her.”
Maddie – who has starred in many of Sia’s music videos, including the promos for ‘Elastic Heart’ and ‘Chandelier’ – feared people would think she was “making fun” of autistic people.
Sia insisted: “I bold-facedly said, ‘I won’t let that happen.'”
However, she realised she cannot “protect” her from the criticism.
The ‘Unstoppable’ hitmaker added: “Last week, I realised I couldn’t really protect her from that, which I thought I could. We sent it off to the Child Mind Institute and she received 100 per cent as performance accuracy. I realise that there are some things I can’t protect her from as much as I try.”