Sia has defended her collaborative relationship with the 15-year-old dancer Maddie Ziegler, following accusations that she may be exploiting a young girl while shielding herself from the glare of the spotlight.
After experiencing difficulties with being publicly recognised, along with depression and addiction problems, Sia covers her face when attending concerts and events, instead using Ziegler as a conduit, the young dancer appearing on the covers of her albums, starring in her music videos and dancing on stage during her live performances.
But following concerns about the relationship raised by Guardian writer Bonnie Malkin, who questioned whether Sia should be foisting onto a young girl the fame she so publicly despises, Sia has explained her decision-making process. Taking to Twitter, the Australian singer/songwriter wrote: “I do check in with Maddie weekly about whether she wants this, and assure her if she ever wants it to stop it stops.
What I learned from Maddie is that fame affects her differently than how it affected me. I can only trust that she is telling me the truth. If that changes, we stop.
— sia (@Sia) December 6, 2017
“Maddie was already famous when I discovered her, but I have certainly expanded her exposure and feel responsible for that. I feel very protective of her and my goal is to empower her in whatever choices she makes,” Sia continued. She added: “What I learned from Maddie is that fame affects her differently than how it affected me. I can only trust that she is telling me the truth. If that changes, we stop.”
Ziegler was previously one of the stars of the reality series Dance Moms, before being picked by Sia to appear in the video for her 2014 hit Chandelier. She has since gone on to appear in several of Sia’s music videos, along with appearing on the artwork for her last two albums. She additionally takes centre stage during Sia’s current tour, while Sia herself sings at the back of the stage with her face covered by a wig.
Sia has previously declared fame “a monster” and declared, in an anti-fame manifesto she wrote for Billboard in 2013, that “if anyone besides famous people knew what it was like to be a famous person, they would never want to be famous.”