Sia reveals she entered rehab following backlash for her directorial debut film "Music"

In a recent New York Times profile, the singer said comedian Kathy Griffin helped her and saved her life

By Joy Saha

Published January 20, 2022 7:31PM (EST)

Singer Sia performs onstage at the Humane Society of The United States 60th Anniversary Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 29, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Humane Society)
Singer Sia performs onstage at the Humane Society of The United States 60th Anniversary Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 29, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Humane Society)

Sia revealed that she struggled with her mental health and subsequently entered rehab after receiving widespread backlash for the portrayal of autism in her directorial debut "Music," according to Variety.

"I was suicidal and relapsed and went to rehab," the singer shared in a recent New York Times profile of Kathy Griffin. She also added that the comedian — who received death threats after a 2017 photo scandal of her holding a bloody rendition of Donald Trump's head — helped her and saved her life.  

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The 2021 musical-drama film stars 19-year-old Maddie Ziegler, who is neurotypical, as Music Gamble, an autistic 15-year-old girl. The dancer, who appeared in Lifetime's reality show "Dance Moms," was also featured in Sia's 2014 and 2015 music videos for "Chandelier," "Elastic Heart" and "Big Girls Cry."

During last year's Golden Globe Awards, "Music" garnered multiple nominations — one for best motion picture, musical or comedy and another for best actress — despite multiple reviews criticizing the film's casting choice and depiction of individuals on the autism spectrum. In a 2020 interview with Australia's 10 News First, Sia defended her decision to cast Ziegler, stating that the film wasn't a documentary but rather, a work of fiction.

"There is no way I could have used someone of [Music's] level of functioning to play her," Sia told Network 10's Angela Bishop, per Yahoo Entertainment. "I also needed a dancer, for [the character's] imaginary life.

"The character is based completely on my neuro-atypical friend," Sia continued. "He found it too stressful being nonverbal, and I made this movie with nothing but love for him and his mother."


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Following the critical reviews, Sia announced on Twitter that a warning would appear at the beginning of the film.

"I promise [I] have been listening," she said. "The motion picture 'Music' will, moving forward, have this warning at the head of the movie: 'Music in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people. 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."

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Joy Saha

Joy Saha is an editorial fellow at Salon, covering Culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Autism Brief Maddie Ziegler Movies Music Neurodiversity Sia