Having already saved Maddie Ziegler from an adult life in which Dance Moms is her biggest claim to fame, Sia is now making a movie starring her precocious muse. At a fan-centered side event during the Venice Film Festival, Sia revealed she’s already finalized the script for Sister and will direct the film, with 12-year-old Ziegler in the lead role. Sia previously featured Ziegler as the star of both her “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart” videos, and has brought her along to perform everywhere from The Ellen DeGeneres Show to Saturday Night Live to the Grammys.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sia didn’t talk much about Sister’s subject matter, but she did share a lot of thoughts about the process of making a film for the first time. The project is based on a one-page story Sia wrote eight years ago, but she was “too embarrassed” to talk about her desire to turn it into a movie because she didn’t want it to be seen as a “vanity project.” Co-directing the video for “Chandelier,” however, changed her mind. “I realized that I was pretty good at directing,” she explains, “So I felt a little bit braver.”
She initially worked on the script with “a guy from a juice bar” who had gone to film school (let that be a reality check for all film school students). But when that collaboration didn’t work out, she turned to children’s author Dallas Clayton. He helped turn her dialogue and notes into a formal script, because Sia enjoys the creative aspects of filmmaking more so than the technical formatting stuff.
It’s unclear if 12-year-old Ziegler will return for the sixth season of Dance Moms (or if there will be a sixth season of Dance Moms, for that matter). But she’ll definitely be able to add “movie star” to an acting resume that so far includes guest appearances on Drop Dead Diva and Pretty Little Liars.