Lilly Singh   

By Devika Goberdhan
Name Lilly Singh
Occupation YouTube star, activist and host of A Little Late With Lilly Singh
Category Entertainment
Country of Residence USA

Why we felt she needed to be included in this list: YouTuber Lilly Singh is breaking barriers as the latest bisexual woman of colour to host her own late night show, A Little Late With Lilly Singh, and she continues to share her positive and inspirational messages about girls supporting girls, body positivity, happiness and being your authentic self.

Lilly Singh, formerly also known as IISuperwomanII before she ditched her pseudo name, rose to stardom after starting to post videos on YouTube in 2010 in an effort to deal with her depression. Not knowing what direction to take in her life while working toward a psychology degree at York University, she felt if she could make other people laugh, that would in turn make her feel the happiness she wasn’t feeling. The lack of South Asian representation on YouTube also motivated her and she aimed to give young women who looked like her someone to relate to.

Since starting her channel in her Scarborough, Ontario bedroom, she has amassed over 17 million followers. Her funny and witty videos deal with everything from dating, to racism, to poking fun at stereotypes within the South Asian community, and  feature celebrities like Jay Sean, Dwayne “The Rock”​ Johnson, Michelle Obama and Priyanka Chopra, to name a few.

‘Unicorn Island’ is the synonym for my happy place. It’s a really beautiful message: that happiness is one of the hardest things you’ll ever fight for, but it’s the only thing worth fighting for.

In 2015, Singh embarked on a world tour, A Trip to Unicorn Island, where she spread positive and inspirational messages about the importance of happiness .

In 2016, Singh had one big goal: to end girl-on-girl hate. She launched her #GirlLove challenge encouraging fans, followers and fellow celebrities to compliment another woman using the hashtag. All revenue generated by views on the video were donated to the Malala Fund to help educate girls around the world. Singh also partnered with ME to WE and every purchase from the #GirlLove Collection helps young women in India, Kenya and Ecuador, receive an education. As a result of this campaign, in 2017, Singh was invited to join UNICEF as a goodwill ambassador, where she continues her efforts to help young children.

In 2017, Singh also released her book, How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life. The book provides a unique take on how to be your best self, achieve your goals and be happy like the true ‘bawse’ you are. The book hit #1 status on the New York Times bestseller’s list and was featured on Goodreads as one of the best books of 2017.

A year later, she travelled to South Africa to meet elementary school students who were speaking out against bullying and classroom violence, as part of UNICEF’s work to end violence in schools.

Singh has rightfully had her praises sung by many notable organizations, including People magazine, Entertainment Weekly, ELLE Canada, Vogue India and The New York Times, amongst many others. She has also been celebrated by TIME as being one of the most influential people on the internet; Fast Company has applauded her on being one of the most creative people; and Forbes placed her on their Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. She was spotlighted as one of the highest paid YouTubers in 2015 and she has won numerous awards, including an MTV Fandom Award, a Streamy Award, multiple Teen Choice Awards, and  the ANOKHI Award in 2014.

I feel like you have to use your energy, you have to use your resources to help those who don’t have a voice. Whereas back in the day, you could say, ‘I didn’t know about this. What was I supposed to do? One person can’t make a difference.’ No, like, none of that’s valid. You can make a difference, and you do have a voice.

This year, Singh declared that she is bisexual in a tweet celebrating her gender, race and sexuality. Fans are celebrating her bravery to live more authentically and challenge the stereotypes of the South Asian community where there’s a hesitancy for women to take ownership of their sexuality like she did.

This September,  Singh debuted her late-night show on NBC, A Little Late with Lilly Singh. The 30-minute show is being celebrated throughout the world by South Asians and the LGBTQIA+ community, and also women and persons of colour. Since The Wanda Sykes Show got axed in 2010 after just one season, the small screen hasn’t had another woman of colour join the very vanilla, boys-only late-night talk show circuit.

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Devika Goberdhan

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