The Wiggles' Tsehay Hawkins on why 'representation' matters

The Wiggles star Tsehay Hawkins was 'nervous' before she was announced as the new Yellow Wiggle.

Video transcript

TSEHAY HAWKINS: When I was announced as a Wiggle I was definitely nervous because it's a big change for a lot of people, but I got such an overwhelming response of feedback and love and positivity and I was just so happy. And I got 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. Even Anthony has said he didn't have that many Ethiopian or African families coming to watch the Wiggles shows and he said now he's seeing way more than there ever has been, which is so beautiful.

They're coming up to the front and dancing and it's really beautiful. I've had a lot of people say that, oh, she looks like me. I can be like her. Representation is really important, so seeing Halle Bailey as the new Little Mermaid, she is outstanding and I'm so excited to watch. And seeing those reactions has really resonated with what happened when I joined. No. No, I never thought being a Wiggle was ever a job option, so it's definitely, like, a whirlwind and so cool.

But, yeah, representation has always been super important to me. Like, when I was little, I don't think I ever stood out. Like, I wouldn't see the screen and be like, oh no, there's no one that looks like me. I don't want to watch. It was when there was someone who was a person of color or a woman-- yeah, like a dark-skinned woman, an African girl. Like, I would be like, oh, my gosh. Like, she looks like me, and I could think that I could be definitely like her. For example, we're talking about Disney Princess Tiana from "Princess and the Frog." I loved her.

Like, I wanted to be her because she looked like me, she had the Afro puff, and she had brown skin and it was someone I looked up to. So I think now that I can be the role model, and especially in Aussie culture, as well. Like, on our TV and social media and on screens I think it's really lovely that I get to be part of the next step of having a diverse and inclusive space where people can see themselves represented on screen.

Well, the Wiggles' mission has always been to educate, inspire through music and dance and spreading joy, and like just sharing messages of inclusivity and happiness to all families all over the world. So it really aligns with WeAre8 and being positive. So I think the fact that I am now going to be a verified creator on WeAre8 to be one of their Australian change makers, which is basically an Aussie ambassador, I think that's really, really cool and it really resonates with the Wiggles' message.

And also it's yellow. Like, their brand color is yellow and I think that pretty much matches my personality and my character, as well. WeAre8 is basically the new social media platform in town. It aims to spread positivity and reconnect people in a safe environment as a social media space. And basically it's called WeAre8 because there's eight minutes of daily curated content and it's on their version of their news feed, which is called 8 Stage.

Anyway, it's curated to what you like and your interest, but it's also from around the world and different 8 creators. It's basically just to shed a positive light on life and posting things where you don't feel judged, so you can post anything. But that's once you've become a verified creator and there's also advertisements that you can watch. And if you watch them you actually get paid money. And half of that-- like, not half-- a little bit of that percentage actually goes towards a charity and you can actually pay the rest of the money you got forward to other charities and people can see that.

Social media is a big part of most of our lives, I guess, now and, yeah, it can get-- I guess it can be a really toxic space sometimes. Like, the environment can get a bit negative online. And I think sometimes it actually creates more division than it brings people together, which is why it's like a bit of a hard way to explain social media and how it makes you feel.

So I think when I saw WeAre8 and how you can share your story and be proud of what you've done, share the positive highlights, and you get to like other people's stuff and it's just all positive, I was like I have to be on board. Like, this is such a-- I think it's something that's really good for the new generation. Social media can really impact people's mental health, so I think that WeAre8 is a bright, new aspect and a new turn on social media.