Popular Australian children’s music group The Wiggles has announced that key cast member Emma Watkins, better known as Yellow Wiggle, is leaving.
Watkins became the first Wiggle woman nine years ago.
She will be replaced by Ethiopian-Australian teenager Tsehay Hawkins, as the group renews itself to become more gender balanced and diverse.
Created in 1991, the Wiggles have become an international phenomenon among children.
Known for their fun song and dance segments and hits like Fruit Salad and Hot Potato, the four-person group has directed TV shows and sold tens of millions of CDs and DVDs around the world.
“Elvis of the Wiggles”
In a video statement posted on The Wiggles Instagram page, Watkins said she would be leaving at the end of the year to spend more time with her family, hobbies and studies.
“The pandemic has given me time to reflect on what’s important in life, and for me that means spending a little more time at home,” she said.
He added that “he was looking forward to putting more time and energy into completing my PhD … and having more time to work with the deaf community.”
Watkins is known for her passion for sign language, which she incorporated into the show, and also for speaking openly about her health issues.
In previous interviews with Australian media, Watkins said he struggled with endometriosis while performing with the Wiggles for many years. Endometriosis is a painful disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus.
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Watkins first joined the group in 2009 playing minor roles before making headlines when she became the Yellow Wiggle in 2013. Up until that point, the Wiggles had all been played by men.
It has since been hugely popular and has had its own spin-off show. Her brief marriage to colleague Wiggle Lachlan Gillespie, which ended amicably in 2018, also attracted media attention.
Founding member Anthony Field, also known as Blue Wiggle, described her as “the Elvis of the Wiggles”.
In a video posted online thanked Watkins for her work with the group, while former Yellow Wiggle Sam Moran congratulated her on “a very successful Yellow era”.
But the news was also met with some disappointment from parents and health workers, who have been thinking about how to break the news to the show’s younger fans.
My 9 month old granddaughter will be devastated to learn that Emma has left the Wiggles. ?
We won’t tell him until after breakfast.
– valentinaem (@ jean15849180) October 18, 2021
Watkins will be replaced by the newcomer, 15-year-old Tsehay Hawkins, born in Ethiopia and adopted by Australian parents as a child.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Ms. Hawkins, who grew up watching the show, said that Watkins was an “inspiration” and that she hoped to build on the show’s multiculturalism.
In August, to celebrate their 30th anniversary, the Wiggles announced new additions that included indigenous and Asian cast members.
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