Pop star Sia, known for her songs Snowman and Let’s Love, recently discussed her directorial film debut for Music at the the Women Breaking Barriers panel at the Sundance Film Festival hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
As reported by UPI, Sia discussed her experience with Hollywood and revealed she regretted succumbing to pressure to cast a white woman.
She cast former Dance Moms reality star Maddie Ziegler in the role of an autistic girl named Music. Kate Hudson plays Music’s half-sister Zu, who eventually becomes her legal guardian. The film also stars Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Zu’s neighbor.
UPI reports, “Sia said she regrets that she did succumb to pressure to cast a White woman. She promises it won’t happen again.”
Sia specifically stated, “I’m part of the problem, not the solution. I’m learning. Next time, I’ll cast whoever I want.”
These comments came after the director sought casting advice for the film.
UPI reports, “Executives warned Sia that if she cast a Black male and female lead, Music would be considered ‘a Black movie.’
Sia elaborated, “You’re going to be put in a different category, you’re not going to be commercial, it won’t be mainstream.”
She described this advice saying, “I thought it was gross.”
As for who she got advice from, Sia says it was white men. She explained, “I just tried to listen to anybody who had any experience in the business.” She added, “Looking back, I guess that was a lot of White men.”
Moving forward, Sia revealed she’s taking advice from her two adopted black sons. Sia stated, “They’re teaching me. I just listen.”
As for the casting of Hudson, Sia indicated she is happy with the choice saying, “I heard her first singing ‘Stay’ by Rihanna and I was like, ‘Yay, she has some grit and she has some soul.”
Sia claims the movie has taken her eight years to complete. UPI reports the film was shot in 2017. Since then the pop star has been editing it.
She explained, “It took me three and a half years to finish this film. I nearly died during the process.”
The trailer for the movie is getting lampooned on YouTube with multiple users accusing it of being ableist due to its depiction of Music.
Sarah B wrote, “Why are you treating autistic people like some sort of mythical creatures that can heal you? It’s offensive and you should be ashamed of yourself for the way you have ignored the autistic community.”
Helper dog Nikki wrote, “As an autistic person I’m very disappointed in Sia. There are scenes in this movie of restraints, something that is very traumatic to a lot of autistic people. DO BETTER. Nothing about us, without us.”
Untitledcats straight out accused the film of ableist, writing, “This is literally so ableist, even as someone who is neurotypical this feels offensive.”
Pille bææ stated, “I love your music Sia. But out of respect for the autistic community, i will not see this movie.”
Music is expected to debut in a number of IMAX theaters on February 10th and then arrive on a number of video-on-demand platforms on February 12th.