Relationships are everything and sometimes, as the Beatles sang, one really gets by with a little help from your friends. Dancer and now actress Maddie Ziegler is testament to the lyric and proves that when you ooze talent and it’s coupled with someone that believes in you, the sky really is the limit.
This week Ziegler makes her acting lead debut in the Sia penned and directed feature Music, in which she plays Kate Hudson’s autistic spectrum impacted daughter. The film marks the fifth collaboration between the singer and dancer-cum actress. Music narrates the journey of Zuzu, played by Hudson, a recovering addict who ends up as sole guardian of her teenage half-sister, Music, played by Ziegler.
Previously in the care of her grandmother, who passed away, Music is a non-verbal child on the autism spectrum. Still dealing with her own battles, Zuzu has never had any experience as parent or caregiver and struggles to adjust to her new life. The challenges she faces are slightly eased when Zuzu forges a friendship with her neighbour Ebo, played by Leslie Odom Jnr.
It’s a heartwarming family movie that shines a major spotlight on Ziegler’s growing repertoire. Sia has often described Ziegler as her muse. She became one of the most talked-about dancers in the world after she appeared in six seasons of the hit reality show Dance Moms. The first season launched when she was eight years old. Sia noticed her talent early on and cast her in a trilogy of videos including Chandelier and later the controversial Elastic Heart and Big Girls Cry.
Ziegler said at the time: “She tweeted me and asked me to be in her music video for her new song and I thought it was fake at first because not a typical person just tweets you – like a celebrity,” she said. “There was no audition, no anything. It was just a direct message from Twitter.” It just took this single message.
It’s a 21st century fairytale, so to speak. Since appearing in Sia’s three music videos, Ziegler danced alongside the singer in several live television performances while online the music videos starring the youngster accumulated nearly three billion online views and set the starting blocks to launch Ziegler’s career into the global limelight. Ziegler danced her first steps at age two.
Now, barely 20, she is on her way to superstardom. In just less than a decade she has racked up seven television appearances, voiced the animated character Camille in the 2016 feature Ballerina, narrated a BBC documentary and debuted on screen in Book Of Henry in 2017. Music is Ziegler’s breakout role as a lead with even more to look forward to with Steven Spielberg casting her in his interpretation of West Side Story and another soon to be released high school drama, The Fallout.
Music opens simultaneously on DStv’s Box Office and Ster Kinekor cinemas on 12 February.