The “Chandelier” singer appeared on Australia’s “The Sunday Project,” to explain the reasoning behind her casting choice. Ziegler is set to play Music, a teen with autism who ends up living with her drug-dealing sister Zu, played by Kate Hudson.
“I realized 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,” Sia said.
The singer had faced backlash from some in the autistic community, with people saying she should have cast someone who is actually on the autism spectrum rather than Ziegler, who has appeared in Sia’s music videos.
Ziegler had been apprehensive about pulling off the part, Sia added, but said she nailed the role in rehearsals according to medical experts.
“She cried on the first day of rehearsals and she was really scared and said, ‘I don’t want anyone to think that I’m making fun of them.’ I bold-facedly said, ‘I won’t let that happen,'” Sia said.
“Last week I realized I couldn’t really protect her from that, which I thought I could,” Sia added. “We sent it off to the Child Mind Institute and she received 100% as performance accuracy. I realize that there are some things I can’t protect her from as much as I try.”