Lilly Singh, internet star
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Lilly Singh started her YouTube career in 2010 from her bedroom in Toronto, Canada. Her funny and very relatable videos on subjects like school life, dealing with Indian parents, the challenge of finding foundation to match her skin made her a huge internet star. The 28-year-old Indo-Canadian now has 11 million-plus subscribers and is among the highest-paid YouTube stars. She has also moved out of her parents' nest to live in LA. Her videos now feature the likes of former First Lady Michelle Obama, while she hobnobs with actor and wrestling star Dwayne Johnson. After her own merchandise, her own brand of make-up, Singh, aka Superwoman, has just come out with a book titled `How To Be A Bawse' (Bawse, pronounced Boss, but with a drawl). It offers a peek into her meteoric rise to YouTube stardom, the struggles along the way, along with life and anxiety management tips. Ahead of her India tour (she's doing events in Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad next week), she spoke to Kim Arora
Up until a few years ago, your audience was primarily young teenagers. How have your videos changed as they (and you!) have obviously grown older?
Earlier I talked about being in school. Today I'm talking about growing up, the fear of getting married, having kids and everyone adulting around me. So, the themes of my videos have changed because what I have experienced in my life has changed. I still try my best to connect to my younger audience by being nostalgic and referring back to the times I was in school and had my first relationships, and that's my attempt to not exclude anyone. I like to reflect back so the younger people can relate, and also talk about my present so that the fans who are growing up with me can stay related to what I'm saying as well.
Another then and now question -relatability has been the core strength of your videos. The move to LA, hanging out with the likes of Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Obama, launching your own makeup is the stuff of celebrity life. How has it changed your perception?
I am really aware of this, and I want to make sure that my content is not always about some of the more surreal things I do like red carpets and premieres. Of course I want to share those experiences through my vlog channel because I think it's a cool glimpse into a pretty awesome experience. But I try also y lifestyle not too over the top. I to make my lifestyle not too over the top. I want to be relatable in my content, and this is really important to me.
In your book, you talk about how you are considered a star in the digital space but are “just another person waiting to audition“ in Hollywood.Why do you think these worlds are so far apart?
I think one world is super old school while the digital space is much more willing to break the mould because there's no strict mould and we're kind of creating it right now. Hollywood is so traditional, and even the people that are part of the system are much older. As the saying goes, sometimes it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
For the uninitiated among our readers, who or what is a Bawse?
Being a Bawse means you are not someone who survives life, you are someone who conquers it. That's the best way to describe it.Whether it's your personal life, your work life or your relationships, it's someone who re ally tries to be the best they can possibly be.They understand that they may fall sometimes, but they understand the value of getting back up. It's about recognising the weaknesses you have and using your strengths to build them up. It's just about conquering every aspect of your life.
You beat depression to build a super successful entertainment business. You describe in detail the effects of the illness in your book. What did you do to push yourself into being functional at the time?
First and foremost, I want to say that while self-love worked for me, I don't think it's a universal solution for depression. I think if people need help then they should seek help.The discovery of YouTube really helped me -having a goal and allowing myself to be creative towards something that I actually enjoyed was really remedial for me, so that's what I did. I focused on a goal, on my YouTube career.
After YouTube, Hollywood, your own merchandise, world tours, and a book, what is next?
I would love to pursue more acting opportunities and possibly write my own film or pilot.Lately I have been learning a lot about screenwriting, directing and producing. I would love to put what I learned to use, especially since I now know how to format a script properly!