Sia reveals autism diagnosis, two years after directorial film backlash

Australian singer-songwriter Sia has revealed she’s been diagnosed as “on the spectrum” – two years after her directorial debut received criticism for its depiction of autism.


The singer, who is one of the most-streamed artists in the world and has written major tunes for the likes of Rihanna and Beyoncé, disclosed the news on an episode of Rob Has a Podcast.

“I’m on the spectrum, and I’m in recovery and whatever,” the 47-year-old Australian singer said. “There’s a lot of things.”

“For 45 years, I was like, ‘I’ve got to go put my human suit on’,” she went on to say. “And only in the last two years have I become fully, fully myself.”


Photo: Stuart C. Wilson.

The singer’s remarks come two years after the release of her directorial debut film, simply titled Music, featuring stars Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr. and Maddie Ziegler.

The film follows recently-sober drug dealer Zu, who becomes the sole guardian of her half-sister, a teenage non-verbal autistic girl called Music.

The film was widely panned among critics and many within the autism community, not least for casting neurotypical actress Ziegler for the role of Music – an actress who also starred in the singer’s music videos for ‘Chandelier’ and ‘Elastic Heart’.

In one-star reviews, The Guardian and NME described it as a “tone-deaf treatment of autism” and “a clumsy autism drama [that] hits all the wrong notes”, respectively.

The film didn’t fare much better with the more public-facing Rotten Tomatoes, either, where it so far sits with 7% on the ‘Tomatometer’ and 14% on the audience score.

Sia hit back against criticism at the time, saying the film was based on her neuro-atypical friend.

In a New York Times profile with US comedian Kathy Griffin, Sia also revealed she had been suicidal as a result of the backlash to the film, and even relapsed and went to rehab; she credited Griffin with her recovery.

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