First Nations Ballerina Evie Ferris On The Intense Reaction To Her New Wiggles Gig

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind for Evie Ferris since it was announced she had joined popular children's entertainment group, The Wiggles.
The 24-year-old First Nations ballerina is one of four additions to The Wiggles' Fruit Salad TV lineup on YouTube, which also includes dancer Tseshay Hawkins of Ethiopian descent, Chinese Australian dancer Kelly Hamilton and Justice Crew member John Pearce of Filipino descent.
It's the first time in 20 years that The Wiggles have women of colour in their main cast, and the diversity has been celebrated by many since the announcement.
"I definitely didn't expect the intensity and the number of reactions there were," Ferris told Refinery29 Australia.
Photo by Kate Longley
The positive reactions to the news have contrasted the relatively smaller number of criticisms, including the one made by controversial politician Matt Canavan who told The Australian, "The Wiggles are free to do what they like. It was nice while it lasted. But you go woke, you go broke."
But for Ferris, who recalls growing up seeing very few Indigenous women on television besides Deborah Mailman and Jessica Mauboy, her attention has been fixated on the uplifting comments.
"It’s been really well received and just seeing people really care has been really cool," she said. "It just shows that we're already making a difference which is really really special."
No one has been more supportive of her than her "stoked" loved ones.
"I think something that I found really special is making my family proud," she said. "Especially advocating for the Aboriginal side, it's been really special because it feels like it's not just for me, it's also for people I love so much."
Ferris said representation on The Wiggles is truly needed for its young audience because kids' views about the world are quickly formed in those early years. "At that age, we learn without even realising and we're just absorbing everything that we see and hear," she said.
"It might not be as monumental for some children, but if someone can turn on the TV and then take what they see and then believe that they're good enough and special enough to go for really big goals, then that's absolutely what we're trying to do."
The Taribelang woman's culture has always been an important part of her career to this date. As the second First Nations woman to join the Australian ballet, she's appreciated the intersection between storytelling through dance and Aboriginal culture and recently used ballet to explore last year's NAIDOC Week theme, 'Always Was, Always Will Be' and the 2021 theme, 'Heal Country'.
"A lot of my culture and ancestry and heritage is all passed down through storytelling," she said.
"I really love connecting with people and I love also that with the Australian ballet, we do connect with people and tell stories through movement. Dance music is a big part of my culture as well so it's a really beautiful thing."
After recording Fruit Salad TV with The Wiggles before COVID-19 lockdown, the Melbourne-based dancer is back to working with the Australian Ballet. As for reuniting with her new colourful skivvy-wearing colleagues, she said the next Wiggles reunion is up in the air.
"COVID is a big spanner in the works so I have no idea when we can get together again," she admitted.
In the meantime, she'll keep celebrating in helping make "the world more diverse and inclusive and bringing my ballet to The Wiggles, which I think a lot of love young kids love."
Fruit Salad TV is available to watch on The Wiggles' YouTube Channel.

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