She’s the one they didn’t even know they were waiting for…
When Emma Watkins first auditioned for The Wiggles, she was going for the role of a ballerina, which suited her perfectly. She’d been a ballet dancer all her life until an injury meant she’d never be able to become the professional ballerina of her dreams.
So she was forced to diversify into different dancing styles, never knowing exactly where it would all lead.
“I snapped my ligament in my ankle,” she told me on the phone, as she packed for the group’s upcoming American tour. “I couldn’t do any more ballet. I decided then I’d have to learn other styles like tap and jazz.”
Now, Emma is being credited with turning The Wiggles into something they’ve never been before. Sure, they were the world’s biggest children’s entertainment group, but they’ve never had as much reach as they do now that they have a woman on board. Suddenly they have more girls who adore them, and their fan base is older than ever before, giving them longevity.
Emma is still reeling from the success of being dropped in as the star Yellow Wiggle last year.
“It [my life] changed really quickly over a number of years. I was just doing a fairy at the time on a Dorothy The Dinosaur Show.” That’s when Anthony Field, one of the founding members of the group, asked her to be a full time Wiggle. She thought it was a practical joke.
“I thought he was telling me I was losing my job. I’d been there for two years and had such a wonderful time.”
Her first phone call was to her mum. “She was really excited. She said, don’t get your hopes up you don’t know what is going to happen.”
It could have gone either way. The Wiggles had been performing since 1991 but over the past couple of years had lost original member Greg, replaced him with Sam, fired Sam, Greg rejoined, then Greg, Murray and Jeff retired and Anthony stayed on, asking Emma, Lachlan Gillespe and Simon Pryce to step up.
To Emma’s mum’s relief, the changes have been a huge success and Anthony credits Emma. “Anthony said if they knew it was going to be such a big thing from the beginning they would have introduced a female Wiggle sooner.”
Why does Emma think adding a woman to the show has made such a huge, positive difference? She recalls their first few shows. “Even though we were new and none of the fams knew who were were at that stage, a lot of the girls came to me. I think they felt calm. And that’s when Anthony kind of realised.”
“He thinks I’m Frankie Valli and they are the Four Seasons.”
Check out Emma’s Irish dancing tutorial:
Anthony’s leap-of-faith in handing her a promotion is impressive, considering he’d never heard her sing. She confesses that their first recording session was a struggle. “I was actually truly worried the first time we got into the recording studio becaue I’d never sung on a microphone.”