“I do check in with Maddie weekly about whether she wants this, and assure her if she ever wants it to stop it stops.”
Photography Petra Collins. i-D The Coming of Age Issue, Pre-Fall 2015.
15-year-old Maddie Ziegler first became known for appearing on Dance Moms, but it’s her hypnotic Chandelier collaborations with Sia that catapulted her to global fame. (Last year, the teen queen picked up a People's Choice Award for being the most "Seriously Popular" person of all time.) If she’s not more famous than Sia, Maddie is probably more recognizable, due to Sia’s own complicated relationship with fame. The camera-shy Australian artist is rarely seen without her signature face-obscuring wigs and hats. Sia has also been vocal about the damaging effect that the spotlight can have on one’s psyche.
Yesterday, The Guardian published an article titled “The Sia conundrum: if fame is so damaging, why pass it on to a child?” It questioned the ethics of Sia propelling a then-pre-teen to fame given her personal issues with being in the public eye. The column prompted a strong response on Twitter. “I love Sia but felt this needed to be said,” tweeted one fan.
Sia has now contributed her own thoughts on the article, defending her collaborations with Maddie without sounding overly… well, defensive.
“This article poses a question I have asked myself often,” Sia wrote on Twitter last night. “I do check in with Maddie weekly about whether she wants this, and assure her if she ever wants it to stop it stops.” She added that putting children in the spotlight is something we all need to talk about more, implicating directors, stage parents, and agents.
“Maddie was already famous when I discovered her, but I have certainly expanded her exposure and feel responsible for that,” Sia continued. “I feel very protective of her and my goal is to empower her in whatever choices she makes. Some would argue a teenager can't or shouldn't be charged with making sound choices for themselves and so I do try to choose the best for her always.”
Fans were overwhelmingly pleased that Sia had finally addressed the issue. Teenagers aren't a monolith, and for her part, Maddie seems very comfortable with being very recognizable. She told us in 2015 that her dream was to star in a movie — a dream that came true just a month later. In terms of stage moms, Sia seems like a very badass one to have.