My Celebrity Life

Maddie Ziegler defends Music backlash amid ableism criticism: ‘It was made with a good heart’

Maddie Ziegler has responded to the ableism backlash surrounding her critically acclaimed film Music. 

The 18-year-old portrays an autistic teenager in the movie directed by singer Sia and also starring Kate Hudson and Lamar Odom Jr.

However, Maddie’s casting has garnered immense criticism with many arguing the role should have been given to an actress who actually has autism.

Addressing the controversy for the first time, the dancer told the Independent: ‘I’ve actually stayed out of all of it just because, you know, I’m 18 years old and it’s a lot of pressure.

‘I understand why people would want someone who’s actually on the spectrum with autism to play this character. But in terms of the dance sequences, I think that’s why Sia chose me to bring the dream world to life. It was all [made] with good intentions and with a good heart.’

Defending her role, Maddie then added: ‘I felt so much responsibility but I felt I was capable. I knew going into this that people were going to love or hate it.’

It comes after Sia, 45, spoke out in support of the young actress who she has worked with for many years, casting her as a dancer in some of her biggest music videos such as Chandelier.

Sia cast Maddie as an autistic teen in her feature film (Picture: Signature Entertainment UK)

Speaking to Australia’s The Sunday Project last month, the musician explained: ‘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.’

Music has landed two Golden Globe nominations with Kate Hudson earning a nod for best actress in a motion picture – musical or comedy for her role as Zu, while the film was nominated for best motion picture – musical or comedy.

As the nominations reignited the controversy, Sia apologised and appeared to delete her Twitter account.

Music is released in the UK on February 15 via VOD.


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