Sia Reveals She Was 'Suicidal' and 'Went to Rehab' Following 'Music' Film Autism Backlash

Sia came under fire for casting Maddie Ziegler in the film as an autistic teen, its depiction of autism and her explanations for why she did not ultimately hire a neuroatypical actress.

Things couldn’t have gone more wrong in the lead-up to and aftermath of the release for Sia’s directorial debut “Music” had it been designed that way. And now, Sia has revealed how much the negative backlash surrounding everything to do with the film impacted her.

Sia came under scrutiny first for hiring her creative muse, dancer Maddie Ziegler, to portray an autistic teen in the film. Ziegler, who is neurotypical and lacked acting experience, was considered by many an odd choice when there are neuroatypical actresses out there.

Sia Apologizes, Reveals New Warning Label for Controversial Film 'Music,' Then Deletes Twitter

The new director didn’t help matters when she told Australia’s 10 News First, as noted by Yahoo!, that she “actually tried working with a beautiful young girl nonverbal on the spectrum,” but ultimately “found it unpleasant and stressful.”

If that wasn’t problematic enough, as critics and finally audiences got the chance to see the film, it was torn apart all over again for Ziegler’s performance as well as its portrayal of autism in general, with particular attention paid to its portrayal of the use of restraints.

Following the film receiving Golden Globe nominations, which set off another firestorm, Sia promised a disclaimer would be put in front of the film reading, “Music in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people.”

Sia Fiercely Responds to Backlash Over Casting Maddie Ziegler In Autistic Role

“There are autistic occupational therapists that specialize in sensory processing who can be consulted to explain safe ways to provide proprioceptive, deep-pressure feedback to help with meltdown safety.”

It seemed she was apologizing at every turn, emphasizing that this project was a labor of love. “The character is based completely on my neuro-atypical friend,” Sia told 10 News First. “He found it too stressful being nonverbal, and I made this movie with nothing but love for him and his mother.”

In a feature piece on comedian Kathy Griffin on Wednesday, Sia told The New York Times that as a result of the relentless backlash she became “suicidal and relapsed and went to rehab.”

Sia Says Casting Maddie Ziegler In Autistic Role Was Nepotism, Not Ableism

She credits the comedian with helping her recovery with a strategic dinner date.

Griffin invited Sia out to a Hollywood restaurant months into the backlash, but it wasn’t just about sharing a meal and good company. Griffin knew that the paparazzi would be paying attention at this particular hot spot, and so her goal was a healthier media buzz.

“She saved my life,” Sia said of Griffin.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress.

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