Leslie Odom Jr. has defended Sia following controversy about her casting dancer Maddie Ziegler as an autistic teenager in her directorial debut Music.
Music, which stars Sia’s dancer protege as a non-verbal character called Music alongside the Hamilton star and Kate Hudson, drew instant backlash after its trailer was released in November, with many disability and autism campaigners questioning why the Australian singer didn’t use an actor on the spectrum for the lead role in her directorial debut.
Sia has defended her movie against critics on social media multiple times, with her urging people to wait to see the film before judging it, and now Leslie has voiced his support for the Chandelier singer.
“I will say that I had a ball working on the film. Sia is a real visionary, I think in the tradition of David Bowie,” he said in an interview with Metro.co.uk. “She’s given us decades now of inspiring, beautiful works of art that has enriched my life, that’s for sure. Now we’ll see what people think about her latest creation.
“Obviously, my ears are wide open and my heart is wide open to whatever the response is to Music when it comes out… I know that the intentions were pure when making it and I’m sure people’s intentions will be pure as they respond to it.”
The One Night in Miami star continued to explain that he’s always “desperate” to hear what the audience thinks about his work once it’s released.
“As an artist, you also know that when you make something, the other half of the conversation is the audience’s response. So you hope that people wait to see the work first but sometimes they don’t,” he said. “I try not to blame audiences for what they feel or what they think because that’s not constructive. Whenever I make something, I’m desperate to hear what people think about what I’ve made, good or bad.”
Music is scheduled to be released in February.