The Performer Changing the Shape of Australian Children’s Entertainment

In our new T Faces series, we profile up-and-comers from across the artistic spectrum. Introducing: Tsehay Hawkins.

Article by Victoria Pearson

Tsehay HawkinsTsehay Hawkins, photographed by Suzanne Stevenson.

The most devoted of Tsehay Hawkins’ fan base are, on average, sub-five years old. As a member of the current Wiggles lineup and a former world champion Latin dancer, Hawkins dons the group’s iconic yellow skivvy and spends most of her time performing for excitable children (and their equally enthusiastic parents) on tour. 

Hawkins, who joined The Wiggles in 2022, credits the original group with her love of dance and performance. “I started dancing as soon as I could walk,” says the 17-year-old, who began taking lessons in jazz, tap and ballet at age two, before learning traditional Ethiopian, West African and hip-hop styles. “It definitely brings me joy and happiness, and similarly does the same for others,” she says of her practice. “It can create connections and bring people together — dancing and performing is kind of my safe space.” 

Born in Ethiopia, Hawkins moved to Australia with her adoptive parents at seven months old. “My cultural heritage has really shaped [and] influenced my artistic and creative output,” she says. “I incorporate a lot of African, Latin American and commercial grooves into my dancing and art, which kind of translates into my own personal style.” 

Hawkins takes her responsibilities as a Wiggle seriously, pointing out that the group might be a child’s introduction to music and the arts. “Being able to represent people of colour on screen, as well as representing the adoption community, is something that I am very grateful for,” she says. Though, she notes, “I would definitely love to see more people of colour in performing arts, especially portrayed in [the] media.

“Australia is such a multicultural country,” she adds. “I think we still have a long way to go in supporting upcoming artists from diverse backgrounds.”