Ten Qs with Lilly Singh
How did you get your nickname?
I started calling myself Superwoman at the age of nine when I discovered a hip hop song by Lil’ Mo with the same name. I loved the concept and thought that calling myself Superwoman was really motivating in times of need while growing up. I adopted the philosophy that everyone can be their own superhero, and I continue to believe that even today.
Why did you start a YouTube channel?
For both personal and business reasons, primarily because I was overcoming depression and used YouTube as a means of self-medication. I thought that making other people laugh would make me feel happier... and it did. I also wanted to inspire other people to live happier lives, and YouTube is a great way to deliver messages to a global audience. From a business perspective, I didn’t see another South Asian woman doing what I was. I thought there was definitely a market for someone like me, so I gave it
How do you add that Indian touch to your videos?
Well, my parents are from India, and I grew up in an Indian household even though I was raised in Canada. I was submersed in Indian culture, specifically Punjabi culture. But I don’t want my videos to be just for people who know about Indian culture, so I always try to make the concepts universal. Having said that, I think the Indian factor comes naturally through in the way my parent characters dress and speak, and the constant joking about marriage and a proper career. However, these are traits a lot of cultures can relate to.
Do they mirror your personal experiences?
Sometimes, yes. If I make a video about types of breakups, it doesn’t mean I just broke up with someone. I usually talk about topics that people (including myself) can relate to at the moment or while reflecting on their pasts. Very often, elements of a video are a depiction of my own experiences, especially the parent videos. My parent characters are nothing like my actual parents, but they do say some of the same stuff. In fact, every family party is just a sea of ideas!
How do you come up with these novel topics?
To be honest, most of my ideas are very basic. They’ve just been reframed in an exaggerated, comic way. In other words, they aren’t necessarily out-of-the-box, but the way I deliver the message is (or so I hope). I like taking a regular concept like relationships or school and spinning it in a creative way. It’s awesome, because everyone can relate to these topics; all I do is get them to think about it in a different way. My skits are unique. I have a video where my mum grounded Santa Claus, but it also featured the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and a leprechaun. I mean, that’s pretty out there.
Which video is your favourite?
THE.TIME.I.MET.THE.ROCK. (Best day ever)
What about James Franco, Kunal Nayyar, Madhuri Dixit and Seth Rogen?
One of the best parts of my job is meeting amazing people, and that includes other entertainers and my fans. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of people whose work I admire, and the feeling continues to be overwhelming. I think more than anything, the experience is rewarding because I get to learn new things from people who’ve been in the game longer than me, especially Kunal Nayyar! I feel like he’s taught me so many things, both consciously and subconsciously. Either that, or I’m always staring at him and eventually I catch on to things.
Your website is called Unicorn Island. What’s that about?
I mentioned the term Unicorn Island in one of my videos andit just seemed to stick, so it’s become a synonym for my happy place. It’s a world filled with colour, positivity, good vibes and lots of cute puppies – basically, everything that makes me happy. I decided to name my online store Unicorn Island because buying merchandise from a world based on happiness guarantees the apparel will be made from 100% unicorn breath. I sell everything from T-shirts to hats to bracelets, and the store is going to get a major revamp very soon!
Tell us about your ‘A Trip to Unicorn Island’ world tour and your association with Culture Machine.
It was complete and utter awesomesauce. I put in 1,000% (extra zero intended) to make this tour everything I envisioned it to be. The audiences saw my channel come to life onstage with comedy, sketches, music, dancing, inspiration and a whole lot of positivity.
Culture Machine was the promoter for the Indian leg of my world tour. I wanted to partner with a company that understood my vision and passion for the project, and Culture Machine really wanted to give my Indian viewers a chance to interact with me offline; to create those special moments in person. Of course, this is supremely important to me. I may be known as a web personality, but it was time to bring that magic to the stage. It was great working with a company that gets it.
Which of their channels do you like best?
The last time I sat down with Culture Machine, they showed me this really cool channel called Being Indian. The content on there is awesome!
..... as told to Niharika