The Wiggles casted four new members: Evie Ferris, Tsehay Hawkins, Kelly Hamilton and John Pearce. Courtesy of The Wiggles, 2021.
It’s official, the beloved childrens' show The Wiggles has become woke! This year, the 30-year-old-show introduced four new culturally-diverse members as part of the launch of their new Youtube Series, Fruit Salad TV. One of these new cast members is Taribelang and Djabugay woman, Evie Ferris - the show’s first Aboriginal Wiggle! (ABC NEWS, 2021).
The iconic group’s original Blue Wiggle, Anthony Field (2021) told NITV News about this conscious decision towards inclusivity and diversity:
“...we made a conscious decision to expand our cast to reflect today’s Australia, and to feature characters from different backgrounds.
“By having better representation on screen, these “mirrors” help children feel seen, and they also help children to imagine a place for themselves in their community and the world at large – which means they can dream big and become whoever they want to be.”
As a child, Ferris was a huge fan of The Wiggles and their performances. From the age of three, Ferris expressed a keen interest in performing arts, having a packed schedule of tap, jazz, acro and ballet (ABC NEWS, 2021).
“I remember after my first solo performance in the Cairns Eisteddfod, I fell in love with being on stage,” Evie (2021) told NITV News.
However, growing up, Ferris rarely saw her Indigenous heritage reflected on Australian screens and stages. So, when she saw Deborah Mailman presenting on Play School, and later, Jessica Mauboy rising to fame, it “had a lasting impact” on her (NITV News, 2021).
From such a young age, Ferris has achieved so much in her performing arts career. In 2010, Ferris’ family relocated to Melbourne after her acceptance into the prestigious Australian Ballet School. During her time at the School, she had the opportunity to tour with The Dancers Company in 2014 and 2015. At just the age of nine, Ferris was accepted into The Australian Ballet School’s International Training Program in Canada in 2015, which led to her auditioning for the School’s full-time program. After six years of full-time training since 2010, Ferris fulfilled her “lifelong dream of joining The Australian Ballet” and becoming a corps de ballet member. Not only did Ferris achieve her lifelong dream, she also became the second First Nations woman to join the prestigious Australian Ballet (Scimm. Dance Company, 2021).
Evie Ferris in Storytime Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty at the Festival Theatre Stage in Adelaide. Photo credit Jeff Busby. Courtesy of The Australian Ballet, 2015.
Ferris told ABC News (2021) that it was through her performance as a corps de ballet dancer at the Sydney Opera House that led to her meeting the remaining original Wiggles member, Anthony Field:
"We both happened to be at the Sydney Opera House, I was there with the ballet and he was doing something with Jimmy Barnes and we ran into each other in the green room...He said, 'Excuse me, can you please take a photo for me and my friend?' and as I was taking a photo...he asked if I was from the ballet and I asked if he was the Blue Wiggle.”
Ms Ferris continued on to say, "I was definitely having a bit of a fangirl moment...From there, we became friends, and kept in contact and it's led to some pretty cool things."
New Blue Wiggle Evie Ferris on the set of Fruit Salad TV. Courtesy of The Wiggles, 2021.
This chance meeting was the catalyst for her becoming the new Blue Wiggle. The 24-year-old’s Wiggles costume caters to her ballet skills as she sports the iconic blue skivvy, a voluminous skirt, ballet tights and blue ballet pointe shoes. Ferris (2021) told NITV News of her excitement towards bringing her culture and ballet skills to her new role, and the hopes that she can inspire young Indigenous kids in difficult circumstances:
“I think both ballet and my Aboriginal heritage are really based around storytelling, so being able to share stories, experiences, educate and advocate in a creative way will be accessible to everyone.
“...I can be the face that inspires them to dream big and really go for those big goals, and believe that they can achieve them.”
On another note, this isn’t her first rodeo with the group, as Ferris performed in a song marking The Wiggles’ 30th anniversary this January (NITV News, 2021). The We’re All Fruit Salad! song celebrated the themes of diversity, inclusion and unity - check it out below:
At Yarn, we are passionate about sharing the stories of First Nations artists, shining a light on their creative journeys and how they give back to their communities. So, as Evie Ferris’ success continues to reach new heights, we hope that her story inspires the next generation of young Indigenous kids to get out there and pursue their performing arts dreams!