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Lilly Singh (born September 26, 1988) is a Canadian YouTuber, comedian, talk show host, writer, and actress, who initially gained fame on social media under the pseudonym IISuperwomanII. Born and raised in Scarborough, Ontario, Singh began making YouTube videos in 2010. By 2017, she was ranked tenth on the Forbes list of the world's highest paid YouTube stars, earning a reported $10.5 million; as of September 2019 she has fourteen million subscribers and over three billion video views.[2][3] Singh has featured in the annual YouTube Rewind every year since 2014 (except for 2019).[4][5] Forbes named her one of the 40 most powerful people in comedy in 2019.[6] Singh has received an MTV Fandom Award, four Streamy Awards, two Teen Choice Awards, and a People's Choice Award.

In 2016, Singh released her first film, a documentary chronicling her world tour, entitled A Trip to Unicorn Island. In March 2017, she released her first book, How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life, which reached number one on the New York Times best-seller list. Since September 2019, Singh acts as executive producer and host of the NBC late-night talk show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh.[7][8] Singh is the only openly LGBTQ+ person—being bisexual—as well as the first person of Indian descent, hosting an American major broadcast network late-night talk show.[a][9][10][11]

See "Television" for her appearance in The Simpsons.

Contents

  • 1. Early life
  • 2. Career
    • 2.1 Creating YouTube channel and rise to popularity (2010–2014)
    • 2.2 World tour, move to Los Angeles, and documentary (2015–2016)
    • 2.3 Continued popularity and debut book (2017–2018)
    • 2.4 A Little Late with Lilly Singh (2019–present)
  • 3. Personal life
    • 3.1 Philanthropy
  • 4. Comedic style
    • 4.1 Allegations of cultural appropriation
  • 5. Filmography
    • 5.1 Film
    • 5.2 Television
    • 5.3 Web
    • 5.4 Music videos
  • 6. Awards and nominations
  • 7. See also
  • 8. Notes
  • 9. References

Early life

Singh was born and raised in the Scarborough district of Toronto, Ontario. Her parents, Malwinder Kaur and Sukhwinder Singh,[12] emigrated from Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India, and raised her as a Sikh.[13] She has an older sister named Tina Singh (born 1982), who is also a YouTuber who makes videos about her family life with her husband and three boys.[14] As a child, Singh has said she was a tomboy.[15] She attended Mary Shadd Public School during her elementary years, and in 2006, she graduated from Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute in Toronto, where she returned as an alumna to visit her old teachers.[16] She was a member of Girl Guides of Canada and participated in their youth programs.[17] In 2010, she graduated from York University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.[18][19]

Career

Creating YouTube channel and rise to popularity (2010–2014)

In October 2010, Singh started a YouTube channel under the pseudonym "IISuperwomanII". She has explained that the name Superwoman was prompted by a childhood idea, making her believe she could do anything. Starting out, Singh had intended to go to graduate school as her parents had requested, but chose to make YouTube videos and decided that she would return to graduate school if her YouTube career did not progress.

In December 2011, Singh created a second channel called SuperwomanVlogs, now titled Lilly Singh Vlogs, where she chronicles her daily activities and includes behind the scenes footage from her videos. She used it as a second channel to upload videos until August 2014, when she began uploading daily vlogs. Originally uploading daily, she now uploads several times a week. Singh appeared as a background dancer in the movies Speedy Singhs and Thank You in 2011.[20]

In August 2013, Singh featured alongside Jassi Sidhu in his Punjabi song Hipshaker. Singh rapped in the song Mauj Ki Malharein, which played in the Bollywood drama Gulaab Gang in August 2014.[21] In July of the same year, she released a song titled #LEH in a collaboration with her friend, author and rapper Kanwer Singh, who is known by the pseudonym "Humble the Poet".[22] In 2014, Singh appeared in a small role in the Canadian production Dr. Cabbie.

In 2014, her channel ranked at #39 on New Media Rockstars Top 100 Channels.[23] The same year, she was nominated for a Shorty Award and a Streamy Award.

World tour, move to Los Angeles, and documentary (2015–2016)

She recorded and released another music video in February 2015 titled The Clean Up Anthem in collaboration with Canadian artist Sickick.[24]

Lilly Singh (then known as IISuperwomanII) performs at the Warfield in San Francisco during her world tour, "A Trip to Unicorn Island".

In March 2015, Singh began a world tour called "A Trip to Unicorn Island", adapting her YouTube content and including singing, dancing, music performances, comedy, and her parent characters.[25] Her tour covered India, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and the United States. She documented the tour in her first feature movie, A Trip to Unicorn Island, which also describes how YouTube fame is affecting her life. The movie was released on February 10, 2016 on YouTube Red (now called YouTube Premium).[26] She describes the film as being very "raw and genuine".[27]

In April 2015, Singh released a song about her hometown Toronto in collaboration with Humble the Poet titled #IVIVI (roman numerals for 416, Toronto's area code).[28] In September 2015, People magazine included Singh on their annual "Ones to Watch" list.[29] Lilly received her first MTV Fandom Award, was nominated for two Teen Choice Awards, and won her first Streamy Award later that year.

In December 2015, she moved to Los Angeles to further her career.[30]

In October 2016, she ranked 8th on Forbes' list of World's Top-Earning YouTube Stars of 2015.[31] She was also featured in Fast Company Magazine as the 100 Most Creative People in Business.[32] Variety magazine recognized her as one of their 10 Comics to Watch for 2016, and she was honored at the Just For Laughs Film Festival in Montreal. In July 2016, she won two Teen Choice Awards from her three nominations.

In 2016, she voiced miniature unicorns named Bubbles and Misty in the animated film Ice Age: Collision Course and played a cameo role in the movie Bad Moms. On August 8, 2016, Singh released a visual music piece on YouTube, titled "Voices". The piece includes five songs portraying the "voices in her head".

Continued popularity and debut book (2017–2018)

In January 2017, she won a People's Choice Award for "Favorite YouTube Star". In September 2017, Singh won her fourth Streamy Award.

Her first book, How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life, was released on March 28, 2017.[33] The book reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. She won the award for Best Non- Fiction at the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards. It was also shortlisted in the 2017 Non-Obvious Book Awards.[34] Her 2017 world tour was centred around the book release and key concepts she discussed.

Singh was cast in HBO's film adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 after recording an audition outside an Internet café in Melbourne, Australia. She was in the region to promote her book and rushed the audition at her agent's urging around 2 a.m. in May 2017.[35] She plays the character of Raven, "a tabloid blogger who works with the fire department to spread the ministry's propaganda by broadcasting their book-burning raids to fans".[36]

In November 2017, Lilly Singh was also chosen as an ambassador for Pantene shampoo[37] and partnered with Calvin Klein.[38] In 2018, Singh appeared in the music video for Maroon 5's "Girls Like You" featuring Cardi B.[39]

A Little Late with Lilly Singh (2019–present)

In March 2019, NBC announced that Singh would host a new late night talk show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, which succeeded Last Call with Carson Daly following its series finale later in the year.[40] The show premiered on September 16, 2019 to positive reviews by critics.[41]

Singh garnered controversy for her remarks on turbans.[42][43][44] During a visit to Jessica Alba's home, Singh met Alba's two young daughters who were both wearing twisted towels on their heads, to which Singh responded "They look like my Punjabi friends [...]"[45] On September 27, 2019, BBC reported that Singh had apologised for an on-air joke that compared turbans to bath towels, in which members of the Sikh religion, who wear turbans for spiritual reasons, were angered by her remarks on NBC,[46] with the BBC remarking that "[Singh] has used her platform to often call out public figures who she says deserve to be "cancelled" for their offences."[46]

Singh was nominated for "Audience Choice Creator of the Year" at the 9th Streamy Awards. She also was placed on Time's 100 Next, a list highlighting rising stars in different industries.[47]

On May 13, NBC renewed A Little Late With Lilly Singh for a second season.

Personal life

Singh developed a strong connection with her Punjabi heritage during visits to India.[48] She struggled with depression, and began making YouTube videos as a way of dealing with her feelings.[49] As a young adult, she lived with her parents in Markham, Ontario. In February 2019, Singh came out as bisexual to the public via social media.[50]

Philanthropy

In 2017, Lilly Singh was announced as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, to advocate for children's rights. She has led a campaign called "GirlLove", promoting girls to end girl-on-girl bullying.[51] In July 2018, Lilly traveled to South Africa as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to meet the students of elementary schools who spoke against bullying and classroom violence.[52]

Comedic style

Punjabi culture is frequently portrayed in her videos, which contain satires on people's complaints and prominent issues.[53] Her most popular video is Three Girls, One Elevator (ft. Zendaya & Winnie Harlow) which also promotes her WE campaign GirlLove, and her most popular series features her fictional parents, Paramjeet and Manjeet, both played by Singh herself, reacting to trending and controversial videos.[53][54][55] She also frequently collaborates with celebrities on her videos.[56]

Allegations of cultural appropriation

Singh has also been accused of cultural appropriation of African-American culture, from such publications as The Huffington PostBitchColorLines, and Vice.[57][58][59][60][61] Anna Silman of The Cut accused Singh of appropriating both black and Indo-Caribbean culture on her channel because of her tendency to don a "blaccent", whilst making rap videos sporting chains and cornrows.[62] Tayo Bero of Teen Vogue wrote that "[Singh] falls into a category of non-Black people of color in entertainment who have built massive followings often by mimicking Black culture and leaning heavily into Black stereotypes."[63] Rachna Raj Kaur and Radheyan Simonpillai of Now similarly criticized Singh's appropriation of Black culture due to her use of braids, hip-hop slang and Caribbean accents.[64][65] Singh has responded to the criticism, by stating her mannerisms are due to her upbringing, adding "all my friends from Scarborough act exactly like me.”[66]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes 2014 Gulaab Gang Herself Playback singer and in song "Mauj Ki Malharein"
Dr. Cabbie Lilly Guest appearance
2016 A Trip to Unicorn Island Herself Documentary; also executive producer
Ice Age: Collision Course Misty / Bubbles (voice)
Bad Moms Cathy [67]
2017 F the Prom Miss Fallsburg Cameo[68]

Television

Year Title Role Notes 2017 Bizaardvark Herself Episode: "Paige's Birthday Is Gonna Be Great"[69]
2018 Fahrenheit 451 Raven HBO Television film
2019–present A Little Late with Lilly Singh Herself Talk show
2020 Medical Police Baroness Von Eaglesburg Episode: "Real Heavy Hitter"
One World: Together at Home Herself Television special
Together in Pride: You Are Not Alone Herself Television special
The Simpsons Kensey (voice) Episode: "The Hateful Eight-Year-Olds"
Red Nose Day Herself Television special
WE Celebrate: Class of 2020 Herself/ Host Television special
TBA Bright Futures Sid Television show

Web

Year Title Role Notes 2014 Giving Back Glam Host 11 episodes
YouTube Rewind 2014: Turn Down for 2014 Herself
2014–2015 The Tube's Hautest Herself/ Various Characters 22 episodes
2015 Lana Steele: Makeup Spy Lana Steele 12 episodes
Terminator Genisys: The YouTube Chronicles Lilly Episode: "Part Three"[70]
YouTube Rewind 2015: Now Watch Me 2015 Herself
2016 Epic Rap Battles of History Wonder Woman Episode: "Wonder Woman vs Stevie Wonder"
YouTube Rewind 2016: The Ultimate 2016 Challenge Herself
2017 YouTube Rewind 2017: The Shape of 2017 Herself
2018 YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls Rewind Herself
2020 One Nation At Home Herself Virtual COVID-19 pandemic Relief Concert
I For India Herself Virtual COVID-19 pandemic Relief Concert

Music videos

Year Title Artist(s) Role Ref. 2017 "Hold My Heart" Lindsey Stirling featuring Phelba Herself (cameo)
"H.A.I.R." Humble the Poet Herself (cameo)
2018 "Girls Like You" (Original, Volume 2 and Vertical Video versions) Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B Herself (cameo) [71][72][73]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Show Category Result
2014 Shorty Awards YouTube Comedian Nominated[74]
Streamy Awards Best Original Song (#Leh With Humble the Poet) Nominated
2015 MTV Fandom Awards Social Superstar of the Year Won[75]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Web Star: Comedy Nominated[76]
Choice YouTuber
Shorty Awards YouTube Comedian Nominated[77]
Streamy Awards First Person Won[78][79]
2016 Teen Choice Awards Choice Web Star: Comedy Won[80][81]
Choice Web Star: Female
Choice YouTuber Nominated[82]
Shorty Awards YouTuber of the Year Nominated[83]
Streamy Awards Feature (A Trip to Unicorn Island) Won[84][85]
Audience Choice Entertainer of the Year Nominated
Social Good Campaign (Girl Love Challenge) Won
2017 People's Choice Awards Favorite YouTube Star Won[86]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Web Star: Comedy Nominated[87]
Choice Comedian Nominated
Choice Web Star: Female Nominated
Choice YouTuber Nominated
Streamy Awards Entertainer of the Year Nominated[88]
First Person Won
Collaboration (The YouTube Factory: Dwayne Johnson ft. Lilly Singh, Markiplier, Grace Helbig, Roman Atwood, Gigi Gorgeous, Alex Wassabi, LaurDIY, King Bach, Flula Borg and Brittney Smith) Nominated
Influencer Campaign (with Dude Perfect for Power Rangers) Nominated
Purpose Awards Honoree, Creator Won[89]
Shorty Awards YouTuber of the Year Nominated[90]
2017 Goodreads Choice Awards Best Nonfiction (How To Be A Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life) Won
2017 Non-Obvious Book Awards Best Business Books of 2017 (How To Be A Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life) Shortlisted
2018 Shorty Awards Creator of the Decade Nominated
2019 Streamy Awards Audience Choice Creator of the Year Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Social Star Nominated
2020 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Female Social Star
Guest stars in Season 31
John MulaneyMichael RapaportJoe MantegnaJason MomoaBob OdenkirkDawnn LewisJane GoodallAsia Kate DillonNatasha LyonneFortune FeimsterCharlie BrookerGlenn CloseScott BakulaSteve BallmerKelsey Grammer
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