Scarborough's Lilly Singh proves being a "bawse" is about more than being a YouTube star
The mega-talent has a handle on her humour and knows how to use it
Lilly Singh may play around on camera, but her behind-the-scenes life is a tireless 24/7 demand feed that rarely stops - lest you think her collaborations with the likes of Bill Gates, Selena Gomez and Jimmy Fallon just fell into her lap. The YouTube "personality" with 12 million plus subscribers and climbing, is a multi-faceted talent who has built her personae, brand and fame off of her very life.
An Indian-Canadian growing up in Toronto's suburbs, she used her everyday happenings, conversations and musings as the base for her comedic videos with her distinct style and tone. If you're just tapping into Singh's world, expect to play witness to clips on everything from unlikely comments from strangers and spoofs of her relationship with her parents. Nothing's off limits, yet it's all pretty PG too.
"My goal is always to make people laugh through my own personal experiences," explains Singh. "And, I still maintain that my videos are very family friendly."
Nota bene to creators from Lilly: if your driving ambition is fame or money, forget about, because "those will not drive you to work the intense hours that it takes."
"I think there's this theory that YouTube creators have a really easy job, like people think these five minute videos—how much work can that be? Well, I've had a lot of jobs in my life, but creating content on YouTube or being a creator in general feels like three full-time jobs ... and there's no boss giving you direction or telling you what to do; it's a complete entrepreneurship business where you drive yourself and you have to channel how successful you want to be and work relentlessly at it," explains Singh.
It's been seven years and counting since Singh started this pursuit, and although she knows her camera-work and production quality has improved, she told us she's not interested in making blockbuster content, at least for now.
"My content is not movie quality and that's something I'm big about. I still want to be that girl that's making videos in her house that people can relate to. I don't want it to be a big studio production or about the million dollar shots," says Singh.
"There's a lot of series that my audience loves, so I'll continue to do that but 50 per cent of my content is me trying new things and new formats."
Indeed. Some of those new things include landing film opportunities (Bad Moms, Ice Age: Collision Course), a brag-worthy New York Times best-selling book, How To Be A Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life, and being named AdWeek's 2017 Creator of the Year. Plus, she was just announced as UNICEF's newest Goodwill Ambassador, joining the roster that includes Priyanka Chopra, Orlando Bloom and David Beckham. This Sunday she hosts a comedy gala at Montreal's Just for Laughs.
"I was the last person to recognize everything that was happening, like people would be telling me 'I made it' … and I'd be like 'nah'", Singh says. "I think it was … when I wasn't able to go to the mall without being recognized, or when parents—ya when parents of kids started recognizing and telling me 'oh yes of course I know you.' Then I started to realize 'OK we've really reached outside' and it's something."
To get to know the Superwoman herself more, check out our rapid fire round with Lilly Singh below.
Life with Lilly Singh
What's your favourite possession in your home?
My hot tub
What posters did you have in your childhood or teenage bedroom?
Your celebrity crush
Dwayne Johnson, obviously.
Least favourite food
Tomatoes. I think they're the devil. I would puke if someone gave me some.
Your favourite late-night snack?
Cereal. I love cereal at any time of the day. Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, those are my fam'.
What's the best thing about being your age?
I'm the only person on my team that can legally rent a car. Everyone on my team is younger and under the age of 25.
What drives you?
Doing all the things that little Lilly wanted to do, to be honest. So growing up and meeting all the people she wanted to meet, going places where she wanted to go.
If you could back as the child of anyone (alive or dead) who would it be?
Bob Marley's child, even though there's many of them, I would just love to somehow be connected to his spirituality and talent.
Favourite family recipe?
My mom's chicken curry, although I'm vegetarian, but somehow she makes me vegetarian chicken curry.
Favourite swear word
I actually don't swear, believe it or not. People are so shocked by this, but I don't swear in person or in my videos. What I say is 'F'.
Hmm…oh! Freshly popped popcorn with butter on it, it is the best.
Your go-to rom-com/rom-drama movie
I don't know if this counts, ya I think it counts, but White Chicks is my favourite movie.
You have an entire weekend to binge watch stuff – what's it gonna be?
Um, Jane the Virgin, that's what I actually do, it's literally so good.
What would your superpower be?
Very selfishly, I'd like to freeze time to let me take a nap in the middle of meetings.