Sia shared that she is on the autism spectrum years after she sparked backlash for the casting of neurotypical actor Maddie Ziegler as an autistic teenager in her directorial film debut, Music.
"I'm on the spectrum and I'm in recovery and whatever," the singer and Survivor superfan said during a recent episode of Rob Has a Podcast, which also featured Survivor season 44 finalist Carolyn Wiger. "There's a lot of things." She hailed Wiger for showing up and "willing to be rejected and willing to be the weird one," adding that the "kook in me recognizes the kook in you."
"Nobody can ever know you and love you when you're filled with secrets and living in shame," Sia said. "And then we finally sit in a room full of strangers and tell them our deepest, darkest, most shameful secrets, and everybody laughs along with us, and we don't feel like pieces of trash for the first time in our lives, and we feel seen for the first time in our lives for who we actually are, and then we can start going out into the world and just operating as humans and human beings with hearts and not pretending to be anything."
"For 45 years, I was like, 'I've got to go put my human suit on,'" she added. "And only in the last two years have I become fully, fully myself."
The "Chandelier" singer previously courted controversy in 2020 following the trailer release of her 2021 directorial feature debut Music, centered on a newly sober woman named Zu (Kate Hudson) who becomes the guardian of her half-sister Music (Ziegler), a teenage girl on the autism spectrum. The National Autistic Society, among others from the community, accused Sia of ableism and argued that she should have cast an autistic actor.
Sia initially hit back at critics, stating the story was inspired by her "neuro atypical [sic] friend" who "found it too stressful being non verbal, and I made this movie with nothing but love for him and his mother." She also noted that she cast 13 neuroatypical people in the film. Scenes that allegedly showed restraint being used on Ziegler's character later sparked more controversy, with Sia offering an apology and stating that the scenes would be removed from future printings.
Sia and Kate Hudson
Merrick Morton Maddie Ziegler and Kate Hudson in 'Music'
Early last year, Sia revealed the intense scrutiny led to a mental health relapse. "I was suicidal and relapsed and went to rehab," she told The New York Times as part of a larger profile of Kathy Griffin, whom Sia credited with helping her get through the experience. "She saved my life," Sia said.
Hudson also previously addressed criticisms of the film, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination at the 2021 ceremony. "I think when people see the film, that they will see the amount of love and sensitivity that was put into it," she said while on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2021. "But it is an important conversation to have, not just about this movie, but as a whole, about representation. When I hear that there's anybody that feels left out I feel terrible."
She added, "It's an ongoing, important dialogue to be had about neurotypical actors portraying neurodivergent characters. It is an important one to have with people who are experts and know how to engage in the conversation. I encourage it, truly. We are listening, and it's an important dialogue to have."