Emma Watkins made the surprise announcement last Tuesday she was was quitting The Wiggles after 11 years in the band.
And while the 32-year-old said her exit was so she could devote more time to her passions – including completing her PhD at Macquarie University – a report in Woman’s Day on Monday cited a different reason for her departure.
A source claimed Emma simply ‘outgrew’ the popular children’s band due to having ‘little control’ over her image – but will still continue to ‘rake in millions’ of dollars in royalties for years to come.
The real reason Emma Watkins quit The Wiggles: The entertainer simply ‘outgrew’ the popular children’s band due to having little control over her image, according to Woman’s Day
‘She had an eight per cent stake in the empire and a profit share on the royalties from all those products, but very little control over how her image was exploited, and Emma is very savvy when it comes to business,’ an insider said.
‘I think she felt it was time to go, and you need to understand the merchandising bonanza was built on both her own name and The Wiggles – those are Emma Wiggle products, not Yellow Wiggle products.
‘She will continue to rake in millions from the Emma Wiggle merchandise, but this clean break also gives her an opportunity to build her own brand, separate to The Wiggles – I think she simply outgrew the band.’
A spokesperson for The Wiggles told Daily Mail Australia they wouldn’t comment on inaccuracies that are attributed to unnamed ‘insiders’.
End of an era: Emma (second from left) announced last Tuesday she was quitting The Wiggles and will pass the yellow skivvy to newcomer Tsehay Hawkins in 2022. Pictured with Simon Pryce (left), Lachlan Gillespie (second from right) and Anthony Field (right)
Emma announced her exit in a statement last week, revealing the Covid-19 lockdown made her reassess her priorities and realise how much she missed being at home.
‘After 11 years of performing with The Wiggles, and nine of those as the Yellow Wiggle, the time has come for me to pass the yellow skivvy on,’ she said.
‘Like many people around the world, the pandemic has given me time to reflect on what is important in life.
‘For me, that means spending more time at home, something that I didn’t realise I was missing out on being away eight months of the year on tour, but something that I have really cherished over the last 18 months.’
Replacement: Sixteen-year-old Tsehay Hawkins (pictured), who joined the Wiggles family earlier this year for its ‘Fruit Salad TV’ YouTube series, has been promoted to the main line-up
She continued: ‘I am also really looking forward to devoting more time and energy on completing my PhD that incorporates my ongoing passion for sign language, dance and film editing, and to having more time to work with the deaf community.’
Emma is passionate about sign language and raising awareness of Australia’s deaf community after growing up with her best friend having two deaf brothers.
Her PhD, which she has been researching for several years, focuses on the affective, artistic integrations of sign language, dance and film editing.
She has also completed a Diploma of Auslan (Australian Sign Language).
Changing priorities: Emma announced her exit in a statement last week, revealing the Covid-19 lockdown made her reassess her priorities and realise how much she missed being at home
Emma added: ‘I am eternally grateful to The Wiggles for giving me the amazing opportunity to be the first female Wiggle, a role that I have loved and one that has brought me so much joy and an abundance of bowtiful memories that I will treasure forever.
‘As The Wiggles continue to evolve and someone new now steps into the yellow skivvy, I look forward to seeing children and families embrace them, just as I was when I began. I wish The Wiggles much continued success as they continue to delight children all over the world.’
Founding member Anthony Field, a.k.a. the Blue Wiggle, said on behalf of the group: ‘Emma first began performing with The Wiggles 11 years ago, when she was cast as Fairy Larissa in our Dorothy the Dinosaur concerts and videos.
‘She went on to play other roles including Wags the Dog, Dorothy the Dinosaur, and as a Wiggly dancer. Then in 2013, Greg [Page] famously handed over the yellow skivvy to Emma, making her the first female Wiggle.
Time to say goodbye: ‘After 11 years of performing with The Wiggles, and nine of those as the Yellow Wiggle, the time has come for me to pass the yellow skivvy on,’ Watkins said
‘We’ve had an amazing time with Emma over this period and while we’re sad to see her go, we know she has many other passions she’d like to pursue, including her PhD and work with the deaf community.
‘We thank Emma for her wonderful contribution to The Wiggles and wish her all the very best as we look forward to seeing her continued success with her other interests.’
Emma was married to fellow band member Lachlan Gillespie, a.k.a. the Purple Wiggle, from 2016 to 2018.
Despite their break-up, the pair remained friends and continued to tour and record with The Wiggles, and even self-isolated together during the coronavirus pandemic.
She is now engaged to Oliver Brian, a musician who works with The Wiggles.
Exes: Emma was married to fellow band member Lachlan Gillespie, a.k.a. the Purple Wiggle, from 2016 to 2018. Despite their break-up, the pair remained friends and continued to tour and record with The Wiggles, and even self-isolated together during the coronavirus pandemic
New love: She is now engaged to Oliver Brian, a musician who works with The Wiggles
Emma is being replaced in 2022 by teenager Tsehay Hawkins, who joined the Wiggles family earlier this year for its ‘Fruit Salad TV’ YouTube series and has now been promoted to the main line-up.
At 16 years old, she is the band’s youngest-ever member.
Tsehay (pronounced se-hi, which means ‘the sun’ in Amharic) is an award-winning dancer who represented Australia at the World Latin Dance Championships.
She was born in Ethiopia and adopted by Australian parents Robyn and Reg Hawkins at the age of seven months, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Tsehay said in a statement: ‘I am honoured to be joining The Wiggles at such an exciting time for the group.
Newcomer: Tsehay (pronounced se-hi, which means ‘the sun’ in Amharic) is an award-winning dancer who represented Australia at the World Latin Dance Championships
‘I grew up watching The Wiggles and I’ve already loved working with Anthony, Emma, Simon, Lachy, Evie, Kelly, John and all the Wiggly characters filming their latest TV series Fruit Salad TV.
‘I’m now incredibly excited to be joining them in the yellow skivvy and to have the chance to go out on the road in the new arena tour, I can’t wait to meet all the Wiggly fans.
‘Dancing has always been my passion, and I look forward to being able to share the joy of song and dance with children all over the world.’
The Wiggles have also announced their new Australian tour, which kicks off in Cairns in February and concludes in Adelaide in May.
Fruit Salad TV Big Show arena tour
Saturday, February 5: Cairns Convention Centre (10am & 1pm show) QLD
Sunday, February 6: Townsville Entertainment & Convention Centre (10am & 1pm show) QLD
Saturday, February 12: Darwin Entertainment Centre (10am, 1pm & 4pm show) NT
Saturday, February 19: MyState Bank Arena (10am & 1pm show) TAS
Sunday, February 20: Theatre North – Launceston (10am, 1pm & 4pm show) TAS
Saturday, March 12: Rod Laver Arena (10am & 1pm show) VIC
Sunday, March 13: Rod Laver Arena (10am & 1pm show) VIC
Saturday, April 2: Newcastle Entertainment Centre (10am & 1pm show) NSW
Sunday, April 3: Wollongong Entertainment Centre (10am & 1pm show) NSW
Monday, April 4: Canberra Playhouse Theatre (10am,1pm & 4pm show) ACT
Tuesday, April 5: Canberra Playhouse Theatre (10am & 1pm show) ACT
Saturday, April 9: RAC Arena Perth (10am, 1pm show) WA
Sunday, April 10: RAC Arena Perth (10am, 1pm show) WA
Monday, April 11: Kalgoorlie Goldfields Art Centre (10am, 1pm show) WA
Saturday, April 23: Qudos Bank Arena (10am, 1pm & 4pm show) NSW
Saturday, April 30: Brisbane Entertainment Centre (10am & 1pm show) QLD
Saturday, May 7: Adelaide Entertainment Centre (1pm & 4pm show) SA
There will also be an ‘OG Wiggles’ tour for over-18s featuring the original line-up, Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Jeff Fatt and Greg Page.
Jeff said: ‘All of those children who loved The Wiggles in the ’90s are now adults who love the nostalgia and fun from that time in their lives.
‘This night is for the grown-ups and is a chance to bring back some of that genuine, high-spirited liveliness again. We can’t wait to relive those childhood memories and dance the night away to some of the favourite old-school tunes.’
Tickets are on sale from October 22. For information, visit www.thewiggles.com.au
The OG Wiggles Over-18 tour dates
Saturday, February 12: Darwin Entertainment Centre NT
Saturday, February 19: Derwent Entertainment Centre TAS
Saturday, March 12: Rod Laver Arena VIC
Saturday, April 9: RAC Arena Perth WA
Saturday, April 23: Qudos Bank Arena NSW
Saturday, April 30: Brisbane Entertainment Centre QLD
Saturday, May 7: Adelaide Entertainment Centre SA