Few can say they are close friends with actresses Priyanka Chopra and Charlize Theron, have interviewed billionaire and humanitarian Bill Gates and former first lady Michelle Obama, and serve as a UNICEF Global Goodwill Ambassador and girls’ education advocate. These distinctions belong to none other than Lilly Singh, known to her 13 million YouTube subscribers as IISuperwomanII.
Having battled depression and originally begun her channel as a way to help herself grow and heal, she continues to spread positive messages, resonating especially with the South Asian community who can see themselves reflected in a comedic yet relatable way with mainstream appeal.
Since then, she has published the New York Times bestselling selling life guide “How to Be A Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life,” worked in partnership with MetoWe to sell #GirlLove rafiki bracelets to send girls to school in Africa, and been honored on the Forbes list numerous times for her work paving the way in digital media. As the highest billed female YouTuber, she feels a responsibility to help elevate other women through her activism and #GirlLove movement, which aims to break to cycle of girl-on-girl hate and uplift each other.
And she has recently begun to break into film and acting outside of cameo roles, starring as journalist Raven in the upcoming Fahrenheit 451, an on screen adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel. Her channel name, IISuperwomanII, may have been prophetic as she is now a global entertainer and inspiration and superhero to millions of girls and young women as they discover themselves and make their voices heard.
In a video for Teen Vogue, she gives and imparts advice to her younger self to come out of a dark time and find and embrace herself.
“Right now you’re in this huge transitional phase of life where you’re leaving high school, going to university, and girl you are trippin’,” Singh said in the video. “I’m gonna tell you to stop trippin’. Because right now you’ve got this idea in your head that you’re gonna follow this very simple linear path of life when you’re gonna go from high school to university, figure out exactly what you want to do, get your psychology degree, and become a psychologist because your Indian parents want you to.”
She discusses paths changing and adapting to life while making mistakes.
“That is not gonna happen. You need to stop thinking you have things figured out,” Singh said in the video. “That is not how life works because right now you’re so scared of disappointing your parents, you’re so scared of not knowing what you’re gonna do in life, and you’re so scared of becoming a psychologist because really you don’t like it. You’re still scared because you’re single and scared because you’re a tomboy.”
She encourages herself to see heartache as a way to grow into the boss lady she is today.
“I honestly want to tell you stop trying to figure things out because all of the mistakes you make are so crucial into who you will become,” Singh said in the video. “You will go to university, you will get so heartbroken, you will suffer depression, and you will think that your life’s in shambles. But every one of those heartaches will lead you to be this amazing, strong woman where not only do you inspire your friends and family, but you get a fanbase of 13, take a second Lilly, 13 million people will watch videos you make on the Internet. You don’t even know how to use the Internet right now.”
Singh turns her quirks, oddities and individualities into strengths and her uniqueness.
“Don’t let people make you think there’s a right way to be because you are a huge freaking weirdo,” Singh said in the video. “And let me tell you, you being weird is what makes you so unique and successful later on. So keep being weird, keep talking to yourself when you’re alone in your room because that doesn’t change, and I still do that. You’re a freak and embrace it, you’re awesome.”
She gets candid about insecurity and the many different ways there are to be a girl and a woman.
“I wish that other people or women specifically told me that there isn’t always a wrong or right way to do things,” Singh said in the video. “Growing up, I always saw really pretty girls on TV or really pretty girls in my class and I didn’t always look like them. And I was always allowed to do the things other people were allowed to do and I’d always believed what everyone else would tell me. I used to think, ‘Okay, I’m wrong and they’re right.’ And growing up a little, you will learn that there’s no wrong or right. It was just different.”
And she takes pride in her cultural identity and diversity as she continues on a journey of growth.
“You’ll create your own path and you will look different and you will sound different and your skin will be different and you will speak a different language sometimes and it’s gonna be fine,” Singh said in the video. “Most importantly, don’t forget you will never stop learning. Right now, you’re sitting here making a video to your 18-year-old self and years from now, even making a video to your 27-year-old self.”
In retrospect, she believes the mistakes she has made propelled her to become who she is today.
“But you will constantly be learning, so continue to be a student, continue learning, taking as much experience as you can,” Singh said in the video. “And make as many mistakes as you can so that you’re heartbroken as many times as you fall in love, as many times as you can get out of this life.”
Fighting for her own happiness and to empower and uplift girls everywhere has always been her core mission.
“Because years from now when you’re back in this chair, I want you to tell a totally different story than the one time,” Singh said in the video. “Really from the bottom of my heart, I’m gonna say that fighting for your happiness has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s been the only thing worth doing and I love you so much! And now that I’m done talking to myself.”