TThe color scheme remains the same, but Wiggles fans will notice some big changes with the recruitment of Tsehay (pronounced “se-hi”) Hawkins into the lineup of the venerable preschool educational entertainment phenomenon.
Hawkins, 15, took over the yellow skivvy from Emma Watkins, who retired after 11 years with the company, and is by far the youngest member of the Wiggles (the group’s founder and remaining performer, Anthony Field, is 58 years old) and the first woman of color. in his front-line foursome.
Usually 15-year-olds have a highly developed sense of what is cool and what is not. Hawkins is no different. And the Wiggles are great, he says.
“They don’t flinch at all. They are iconic. Everyone I know saw them when they were little and even if you’re trying to be really cool, it’s like no, I have to love the Wiggles. “
Discovered through her Instagram account (18.6k followers and counting), Hawkins is already on the fast track of his career. Recruited to the cast of the Wiggles Fruit Salad TV side project as a dancer in 2020, she joined the cast of the live show as Wiggly Dancer earlier this year.
“Then I practically graduated directly from Yellow Wiggle. I didn’t even have to audition, “says Hawkins. “My friends from dance school used to say ‘Tsehay, you’re literally on the brand, you’re always eating fruit salad.’ I didn’t even realize it. In fact, I’m always eating fruit salad. “
Hawkins was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Adopted at seven months old, she was brought to Australia and grew up in Bargo, 100km southwest of Sydney, with her parents, little brother, and a British bulldog named Spud.
She is a normal teenager and loves Harry Potter novels (“Hermoine is my favorite”) and blockbuster movies like Titanic, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Sherlock Holmes. Musically, he loves Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Aretha Franklin (“all the great artists”). But it’s the dance that really gets her going.
Dancing was as natural as walking, she says.
“I started dancing when I was about two years old. He was always dancing around the house to Wiggles songs as soon as he could walk. Greg was always my favorite and Dorothy. “
Ballet, tap, and jazz lessons followed. “We also went to a lot of African festivals and they always have some kind of audience participation. Everyone was telling my parents that they should put me on the cultural side of dance, so I started taking dance classes from Ethiopia and West Africa. “
Hawkins’ younger brother Kendly, 10, is also adopted. He was born in Colombia. “We went there for quite some time and I fell in love with the culture,” says Hawkins. “They have a dance called cumbia and I found it very beautiful and elegant. So I also started doing Latin dance. ”In just a few years, Hawkins accumulated 11 Australian titles and four world titles in Latin and commercial dance.
It’s the right time for the Wiggles to have a young woman of color in the lineup, says Hawkins, who also sees herself as an ambassador for adopted children and diverse family structures.
“I already have a lot of support from the adoption community and the African community here in Australia,” says Hawkins. “I would love for little kids to see me and want to wear their natural curly hair like me. That means a lot. Sometimes when you see Africans on TV, their hair is straightened and many children want to change their hair to look like them. If I can show children how to be natural, that would mean a lot to me. “
Unlike his co-stars, Hawkins (who will turn 16 in November) will need an escort during the tour (“maybe one of my parents”) and will have to continue his studies through distance education. No problem, she says.
“Even before the lockdown I was dancing seven days a week, coming home late at night and still fitting in at school. When I’m on tour with the Wiggles, I’ll do my studies online. “
The Wiggles’ national tour begins in February 2022, with Hawkins alongside Lachlan “Lachy” Gillespie (Purple), Simon Pryce (Red) and Field (Blue), and a supporting cast including Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur. and Wags the Dog. Hawkins is not intimidated by the difference in age and experience, or the complexities of the dinosaur dance Dippy Doo and Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist.
“We all have the same interests in music and dance and working with Anthony is great. She is a lovely person and has a lot of stamina. “
Will some of the young fans wonder what happened to Emma?
“I guess so,” says Hawkins. “Emma is an icon. She inspired a lot of kids and I definitely think they are great shoes to get into. But I am up to the challenge. We have the same passion for dance but we are very different people. I hope everyone understands that a new generation is always coming. The idea of kids seeing me as Yellow Wiggle is absolutely cool … sick. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism