If you’re looking for some added incentive to get creative in the new year, we’ve got it. Going through our archives and this Darling Issue 17 feature with YouTube powerhouse Lilly Singh made our day. Again.
We’re sharing five questions from her much longer interview (which you can read in full when you subscribe here and gain instant access to our digital library!) that we think best captures her personality, spunk and inspiring advice for creating content that matters.
The Many Faces of Lilly Singh
There seem to be endless channels and new personalities to watch on YouTube these days, but there is only one “Superwoman” whose vlogs seamlessly flow between spoofing the female Friday night dress-up ritual and talking sense on confidence, success and living without comparison.
Lilly Singh, with her determination and boundless creative energy, has our attention. At just 27 years old, her YouTube channel has over 12 million subscribers, she has collaborated with Smashbox Cosmetics to release a lipstick shade called Bawse, and recently announced a new campaign, #GirlLove, dedicated to diminishing female-on-female bashing. We loved spending time with her and hearing a little bit more about where she came from, and where she is (very rapidly and with great zeal) going.
Sarah Dubbeldam: Tell us the story of how and why you founded your channel. What was the motivating reason for it all?
Lilly Singh: I started my channel in 2010. My first video was a very bad, awkward spoken-word piece. [Laughs] I was at New York University (in Toronto) studying psychology, which I’m clearly using a lot of today, and was kind of a sad person going through the motions of life. I felt like I was just following my sister’s footsteps, doing what my parents wanted me to do, and wasn’t really excited about anything I was doing.
I discovered YouTube one day and decided to give it a try … I uploaded my first video quite spontaneously, not thinking anything of it, just being like, “Ah, I’m going to throw out this spoken-word piece, whatever.” I just remembered what it felt like to do something that was creative and fun that I loved after so long, and so I was like, “Oh! This is a breath of fresh air!” It made me happy more than anything else, so I uploaded a second video and then a third and then it snowballed into what is today, which is a testament to the fact that I call myself “Superwoman,” because I clearly didn’t think the channel was going to get that big.
SD: What do you do with haters?
LS: I have a sticky on my computer that says, “Focus on what deserves your attention.” That is there to remind me to not respond to negative comments—not to say that every negative comment is wrong. They might be right; sometimes my videos do suck—but it’s that the people that support should probably get the reply more than the people that don’t. But, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t make a sassy remark once or twice in response.
SD: There are a lot of people out there doing funny things, but obviously you’ve had a lot of success. What do you attribute that to?
LS: I bribe a lot of people. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I—to be really honest—in the most humble way (but also not in the most humble way, because I’m proud of it), I work really hard. I think a lot of it is that, for six years, I’ve been working my butt off, making videos, being really consistent. I make scripted videos twice a week, I make daily vlogs, I do a lot of things.
Also, to be successful I think you have to have a certain…a certain level of obsession. That’s the honest truth. If there is a secret, it’s that: just being really consistent, working really hard, and understanding there are no shortcuts. No one’s going to give you an escalator; you’ve gotta take the stairs.
No one’s going to give you an escalator; you’ve gotta take the stairs.
SD: What three principles, or thoughts, will you absolutely keep or refuse to break regardless of what you might be offered?
LS: Promote what you love; don’t bash what you hate—that’s one I believe in a lot. The second would be: Don’t do anything your future self won’t thank you for. And thirdly: Don’t do anything that is exclusive to anyone.
For example, I have a campaign called #GirlLove. That doesn’t mean I hate boys and I don’t want boys to be a part of it. It’s just because I believe that women have certain struggles they’re facing right now and need to stick together, but it’s never to be exclusive to a group, you know. And I learned that even when I starting making videos in the beginning. I used to call everything “my Indian this,” “my Indian that,” and then I realized that I didn’t have to do that. I want to make sure my comedy and everything I do is inclusive and for everyone.
SD: What’s your greatest hope?
LS: My greatest hope, I mean, aside from people not being hungry and suffering—I’m going to make this lighthearted because there could be a lot of deep hopes—but my greatest hope would be that when I press print, my printer prints.
I would love for that, if my printer printed. Any printer printed. I hate printers. I swear I just—a lot of my sanity and a lot of my life—days have been taken off my life because of printers. I can’t tell you how many times in high school or university, I was like, “Oh! Done this, made it on time, and my printer was like, ‘Nope! You’re gonna fail this one!’” Days have been taken off my life, yep. It’s 2016, and I have to replace ink? How are there not pipes connected to my printer from some central ink station? [Laughs.]
Like this? There’s more to love in Issue 17. Become a Darling subscriber HERE to immediately gain access to all of our digital versions, plus get our latest issue delivered right to your doorstep.
Images by Jason Barbagelott