Emma Watkins and Lachlan (Lachy) Gillespie are best known as the yellow and purple Wiggles. The two began dating in 2013, after Emma became the first female Wiggle, and revealed their romance in March last year and later married. The children’s group are marking their 25th year in show business and embarking on an Australian tour, titled the Dance, Dance! The Wiggles Big Show!, starting next month. Watkins, 27, and Gillespie, 30, tell me about what they’ve learnt from being part of the Wiggles empire, why they initially hid their romance, and their plans for a mini-Wiggle.
How did you both get into entertainment?
Lachlan: I went to WAAPA [the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts] over in Perth. I did music theatre for three years, then moved to Melbourne and started auditioning … I got an audition for the Dorothy [the Dinosaur] show, in 2009, and I’ve worked with the Wiggles ever since.
Emma: I studied as a dancer. And then, during school, I had an injury, and then I learnt how to make films … I came back and did full-time dance and then I went to uni to do film again, and then I got the audition for the Dorothy show. That’s when I met Lachy, [who] was already Captain Feathersword on that show, and I was a Fairy, and we started touring together. And then, I was taken to Wiggles to do filming and dancing.
Did you watch the Wiggles growing up?
Emma: Yes, on one of the old regional videos on VHS. They cut [to the audience of the live show] and it’s my sister and I dancing.
How did you find out that you had landed the coveted role as a Wiggle?
Emma: Simon [the Red Wiggle] was like, “Murray and Jeff and I, we’re going to retire at the end of the year. We’re starting a new line-up … He was like, “We want to have you.” I was like, “very funny” because they’ve always played practical jokes … He said, “No, we want you.” We went and told Lachy that I was going to do it. From then, it has just been the weirdest, most amazing experience.
What has been the most amazing part?
Emma: It has just become our lives. It’s kind of weird: it doesn’t feel like a job where you clock in at nine and you go at five. It’s seven days a week, we meet children everywhere we go, in the shopping centre, on the plane. It’s so lovely to meet so many families around the world … The mothers used to watch it when they were little and now they’re bringing their children. So that generational thing, I think that’s why the Wiggles are so special.
Did your romance blossom during the Wiggles?
Emma: I really fell in love with Lachy in the first moment … But it took him a long time [laughs]!
Lachlan: No, I knew we had a connection right from the start … In 2012, we basically spent the entire year together, every single day.
Why did you originally hide your romance from the rest of the cast?
Lachlan: We thought it was a respectful thing to do. There is nothing worse … if you’ve only just only started in a world-class organisation such as The Wiggles and then all of a sudden we come out that we are together … We didn’t want people to think we were just doing it for [publicity].
Emma: We didn’t officially say to anyone, but they knew. Anthony knew, definitely!
When did you decide to announce to the public you were a couple?
Emma: It was getting to the point where we were like, “we probably want to share it”, though at the time I didn’t know that Lachy had planned to propose, so … our relationship was announced, and then, about a month and a half later, our engagement. So everyone was like: whoa, whoa. For us, it felt like quite a while.
How is married life treating you?
Emma: It’s fast. I feel that because we tour all the time, we’re together all the time – and we didn’t go on honeymoon – so it feels like it hasn’t really changed much.
Do you have plans to start a family?
Emma: It would be really nice … It really is almost like we have to put it in the tour schedule [laughs].
It is incredible that the Wiggles have been at the forefront in the children’s entertainment industry for such a long time.
Lachlan: Yes, because it’s not normal to be even a band for that long.
Emma: I think that’s why Anthony [Field] is such a genius, because he does try and keep up with the times, whereas a lot of people get stuck and bogged down.
The Wiggles have celebrated their 25 years in children’s entertainment this year. What have you learnt from being part of the Wiggles phenomenon?
Emma: The No. 1 thing is that the children, even if they’re there as a group, it’s important to address the children as though they’re the only person there. They are egocentric; they don’t know they’re there with that many people. So that’s why so many of the songs are really direct … By speaking as if speaking to one, then that’s why they all connect. I think that’s a real skill.
How have the Wiggles changed over the 25 years?
Emma: Even going from just doing a CD to going on VHS, which sounds so ridiculous now, but it was such a big thing then. Then they were the first to do a DVD in children’s entertainment … Now it’s iTunes, and only recently we signed with Netflix to 190 countries.
Wiggles is aired all around the world. Where is the strangest place you guys have been recognised?
Emma: I get a lot of recognition in the ladies’ bathroom, and it sounds weird but it keeps happening to me … I think when you’re waiting, a lot of people recognise because it’s that moment that they stop and actually look at you.
What do you do in your downtime?
Emma: We don’t have a lot of time not Wiggling – we are touring six days a week, every week – but when we do have time off, we try to go and see our family.
What’s next for you guys?
Lachlan: Well, [we have the] Lachy! show out. There’s a new Emma DVD [Darling for Emma], which a whole feature length of Emma things. We’ve got a new TV series, which started in July, and we’re writing another TV series now. And we also have our Big Show Tour.
Are the original Wiggles members still involved?
Emma: Yes, they are behind the scenes. For the 25th year, we did a fundraising concert for 18-and-overs … You could just imagine, like, an entire pub, full of 18-and-overs having a beer and then singing their favourite Wiggly songs!
Where do you guys see yourself in 10 years?
Emma: I’m still Wiggling because I made a bet with Jeff [Fatt, the purple Wiggle] that I will Wiggle till I’m 60 because he Wiggled till he was 60.
Lachlan: Yes, I hope it goes as long as the original guys did.
The Wiggles’ national tour includes Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, on December 17. Also Perth Arena, November 19; Adelaide Entertainment Centre, November 27; Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, December 3; the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, December 5; Brisbane Entertainment Centre, December 10; Newcastle Entertainment Centre, December 13; WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong, December 20. See thewiggles.com/events.
WE WENT TO Sotto on West, North Sydney
WE ATE Seasonal fruit salad, poached burgundy and elderflower pears, organic honey and yoghurt, dried coconut fruits and nuts;
WE DRANK Green juice, herbal tea and cappuccino
EMMA WORE Leona Edmiston dress
LACHY WORE a vintage leather jacket and jeans
KATE WORE Tome dress.