The Wiggles' Tsehay Hawkins reveals key advice from Emma Watkins

·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·5-min read

The Wiggles star Tsehay Hawkins made history when she joined the children’s entertainment group in 2021, taking over from previous Yellow Wiggle Emma Watkins.

She is the youngest and first Ethiopian main Wiggle member, stepping into the yellow skivvy at just 16 years old.

L: Emma Watkins smiling in a field. R: Tsehay Hawkins as the Yellow Wiggle holding her doll
Tsehay Hawkins stepped into the Yellow Wiggle skivvy after Emma Watkins left. Photo: Instagram/emmawatkinsofficial & tsehay.hawkins

Tsehay has opened up to Yahoo Lifestyle about the advice she received from Emma just before she was named as the new Yellow Wiggle.

“The night before it was announced, [Emma] just called me up and she was saying, ‘I’m so happy for you, it’s such an amazing opportunity. Just take everything as it comes and basically just say yes. Just be open to new ideas’,” she tells us.

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The performer adds that Emma said she was ‘always there to talk’, and the pair support each other with their new endeavours on social media.

‘I was definitely nervous’

Tsehay admits that she was ‘definitely nervous’ before she was announced as the new Yellow Wiggle, and acknowledges that it was a ‘big change’ for some fans.

However, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and her presence has even attracted a whole new audience.

“I [have] people saying oh, their little girl is now excited to wear her natural curls and her afro because she sees someone who looks like her [on TV],” she says.

“Anthony said he didn’t have that many Ethiopian or African families coming to watch The Wiggle shows [before I joined]…now he’s seeing way more than there ever has been, which is so beautiful.”

L: Tsehay Hawkins in The Wiggles costume on a stage. R: Selfie of Tsehay Hawkins with her natural afro puff
The Wiggles star is an important role model for young children. Photo: Instagram/tsehay.hawkins

Tsehay was adopted from Ethiopia when she was just eight months old, and she admits that she didn’t think that joining The Wiggles was ever a possibility while growing up.

“I never thought being a Wiggle was ever a job option,” she starts. “When I was little…I wouldn’t see the screen and be like, ‘Oh no, there’s no one that looks like me’. It was when there was someone who was a person of colour, or a woman…I could think that I could be definitely like that.”

The star remembers vividly when she first saw African American princess Tiana, in the animated movie The Princess and the Frog.

“I wanted to be her because she looked like me. She had the afro puff and she had brown skin, it was someone I looked up to,” she says.

“So now that I can be the role model, especially in Aussie culture as well as on our TV and social media…I get to be part of the next step to having a diverse and inclusive space where people can see themselves represented on screen.”

Tsehay is a 'verified creator' for new social media app WeAre8. Photo: Supplied/WeAre8
Tsehay is a 'verified creator' for new social media app WeAre8. Photo: Supplied/WeAre8

‘I have to be on board'

The Yellow Wiggle has an important new role as a change maker for the new social media platform WeAre8. Described as ‘the world’s only sustainable social media app’, the platform aims to foster a space that is ‘free from hate and is good for the planet’.

The platform allows users to be paid for watching advertisements, with some proceeds going towards charity.

Tsehay is a ‘verified creator’ and will be making exclusive content for the platform that ‘sheds a positive light on life’.

WeAre8’s values align closely with The Wiggles, which is to ‘educate, inspire, spread joy and inclusivity’, so it was an easy decision for Tsehay to jump on.

“I was like, please, I have to be on board. I think it’s something that’s really good for the new generation. Social media can really impact people’s mental health, I think that WeAre8 is a bright new aspect and a new turn on social media,” she explains.

The Wiggles with Steve Carell who is on a computer screen
Tsehay loved getting to work with Steve Carell. Photo: Instagram/tsehay.hawkins

‘Coolest moment ever’

It has been a whirlwind year for the 16-year-old, who can now brag about performing with pop star The Kid Laroi, collaborating with The Office star Steve Carell and working with the Irwins.

Steve was doing a promotional skit for the new Despicable Me film, when he pretended to ‘audition’ for the role of the Yellow Wiggle.

“He came in, he was wearing the yellow skivvy and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m matching with Steve Carell’. It’s just the coolest moment ever,” she says excitedly. “He said congratulations on the new role, it’s such a wonderful opportunity.

“Never would have guessed I’d be doing a Wiggly skit about the new Despicable Me with Steve Carell!”

When asked who her ‘bucket list’ celebrities are, she starts listing a number of strong, female role models.

“That could go on forever. I mean, Beyonce is always up the top, she’s a queen, and Zendaya, and Emma Watson, Millie Bobby-Brown. All these beautiful strong women,” she gushes.

The star is looking forward to what comes next, and can’t wait to see ‘where everything takes her’.

“If you told me a year ago that I was going to be a Wiggle, I wouldn’t believe you,” she laughs, before adding: “It’s the most amazing group.”

WeAre8 is available to download now from Apple App Store or Google Play.

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