Actress and comedian Lilly Singh, who was appointed as UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador, hugs a girl child at an event in New Delhi, July 15. She is known by her digital alias ‘Superwoman.’ (Kamal Kishore/PTI)
At 28, Lilly Singh has achieved what others only dream of. She is one of the world’s highest paid YouTube stars, an actress, a writer and a singer, writes Shrishti Negi.
Born to Indian parents in Canada, Lilly had a normal life until she decided to create a YouTube account, not realizing that it would end up making her famous.
“I started doing it because I was sad. And all my friends started it because they were either anxious or they did not talk to people or they had some personal reasons,” she says.
Known as Superwoman among her fans, Lilly’s stardom has gone far beyond her YouTube channel, which has over 11.9 million subscribers. She was recently appointed UNICEF’s Goodwill Global Ambassador.
In an exclusive interview with PTI, Lilly says, “I was one of the first South-Asian females to be on YouTube. I would say that was my biggest strength and weakness.
“It was my strength because that’s what got me a lot of attention. People were like, ‘Oh my god, there’s this brown girl on YouTube let’s watch her.’ But at the same time people couldn’t see past my color. There were so many news reports that wouldn’t even say my name sometimes.”
Lilly says there were times when such reports would only refer her as an Indian girl or a brown girl on YouTube.
“I thought that was not all I was known for. It has been difficult. It’s two-fold, I want people to recognize my skin color but I also don’t want them to define me by that.”
The Internet star, however, says she fortunately never really countered any major case of discrimination though she gets a glimpse of it in the comment section of her videos.
“The biggest discrimination that probably I face today is just YouTube comments. They are racist and sexist for sure.”
When asked if she is now used to fame and the criticism it brings, Lilly says, “When I first started as ‘superwoman’ and people started recognizing me I was like, ‘Yeah this is amazing.’ As I’ve progressed I feel like now I get a little more anxious than I used to get before.”
The world of social media keeps her busy, so much so that she doesn’t even get time for herself.
“I always have to be on Twitter or Instagram. Even while walking from this room to that room. And people are always asking me something. But sometimes it makes me a little bit anxious. It’s an ongoing journey and I’m really trying to figure it out. There’s no one solution to that.”
Lilly was recently in India to support UNICEF’s new initiative which aims to empower the youth.
“I always have this great privilege from the people of India because they very much still make me feel at home which is good because I’m not technically from India. But whenever I come here I feel like ‘Welcome home,’” she says about her experience of coming to India.