The Wiggles add four new culturally diverse band members
Among the new members to don the skivvy alongside Anthony, Emma, Simon and Lachy are Tsehay Hawkins, an award-winning ballet dancer of Ethiopian descent, as well as Evie Ferris, a Taribelang woman who is only the second First Nations woman to join The Australian Ballet.
Hawkins and Ferris are also joined by Kelly Hamilton, a Chinese/Australian woman who has previously performed as a dancer with The Wiggles, Sesame Street Live and Dora The Explorer, as well as former Justice Crew member John Pearce, who hails from a Filipino background.
Additionally, three non-binary secondary characters – Officer Beaples, Shirley Shawn the Unicorn and Bok the hand puppet – will also join the group on a recurring basis.
The new members will be part of the upcoming YouTube series Fruit Salad TV, which sees the group take on themes of culture, race, age and gender diversity in an engaging manner for children.
Founding member and longtime Blue Wiggle Anthony Field said the cast changes were part of a key evolution for The Wiggles as they entered their fourth decade as a group.
“The Wiggles were created during a time when early childhood educational concepts were the focus. As society has evolved, we have embraced the need for diversity and inclusiveness and want children all over the world to see themselves reflected on the screen,” Field said.
“It’s so important that The Wiggles continue to evolve along with our society. This is the first step towards shaping The Wiggles for the next 30 years, taking us in a direction that truly represents and serves our community more inclusively.”
Professor Michael McDaniel AO, a noted First Nations academic who acted as an advisor on the upcoming show, highlighted the importance of onscreen diversity and applauded The Wiggles for taking the initiative.
“The importance of children seeing themselves reflected on screen has been well reported, and the launch of this new era for The Wiggles is a genuinely positive step forward,” McDaniel said.
“The new group is truly representative of today’s Australia and will help to foster great social cohesion within the community, which paves the way forward to a brighter future for all Australians.”
Fruit Salad TV launches on The Wiggles’ YouTube channel on Saturday, September 4.