Emma Watkins: First female cast member of musical group The Wiggles quits

Australian children’s music group The Wiggles has announced that key cast member Emma Watkins, better known as the Yellow Wiggle, is leaving.

Watkins became the first female Wiggle nine years ago.

She will be replaced by Ethiopian-Australian teen Tsehay Hawkins, as the group revamps to become more gender-balanced and diverse.

Created in 1991, the Wiggles have become an international phenomenon among young children.

The four-person act have fronted TV shows and have sold tens of millions of CDs and DVDs around the world.

In a video statement posted on The Wiggles’ Instagram page, Watkins said she would leave at the end of the year to devote more time to her family, hobbies and her studies.

“The pandemic has given me time to reflect on what is important in life, and for me, that means spending a little more time at home,” she said.

She added she was “looking forward to devoting more time and energy to completing my PhD… and to have more time to work with the deaf community.”

Watkins first joined the group in 2009 playing smaller roles before making headlines when she became the Yellow Wiggle in 2013. Up to that point, the Wiggles had all been played by men.

Since then she has been hugely popular and had her own spinoff show. Her brief marriage to fellow Wiggle Lachlan Gillespie, which ended amicably in 2018, also attracted media attention.

Founding member Anthony Field, also known as the Blue Wiggle, has described her as “the Elvis of the Wiggles”.

Watkins will be replaced by a newcomer 15-year-old Tsehay Hawkins, who was born in Ethiopia and adopted by Australian parents as a baby.

In an interview with the ABC, Ms Hawkins, who grew up watching the show, said 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.