Lilly Singh is a to­tal Bawse

YouTube star trades vi­ral for vul­ner­a­ble in de­but book

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - BOOKS - Sue Carter For metro Canada

Lilly Singh is of­ten called an overnight suc­cess, but in re­al­ity, her fairy­tale rise to fame is the re­sult of what your grandma might have called old-fash­ioned el­bow grease.

In late March, the YouTube su­per­star made her third ap­pear­ance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fal­lon. Within a week, af­ter re­leas­ing a cou­ple new videos, Singh re­turned to her old high school, Lester B. Pear­son Col­le­giate In­sti­tute in Scar­bor­ough, pre­sent­ing on be­half of First Books Canada, a lit­er­acy pro­gram that do­nated 650 copies of her new book, How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Con­quer­ing Life, to an au­di­to­rium full of scream­ing teenagers.

The fol­low­ing day in Toronto, while on her in­ter­na­tional 34date book tour, Singh sits in a board­room at her Cana­dian pub­lisher, Pen­guin Ran­dom House Canada, for me­dia in­ter­views. There’s a hand­made pil­low sewn by her mother on the chair be­side her, a re­minder of home wher­ever she trav­els.

Singh was 22, liv­ing in her par­ents’ Markham home, de­pressed and caught in a dead-end job when she started pro­duc­ing her own YouTube videos un­der the alias Su­per­woman. Her early con­tent catered mostly to South Asian teens, but as she be­gan to share more ob­ser­va­tions about life as a young woman, the uni­ver­sal­ity of her mildly fem­i­nist mes­sages and straight-up com­edy went vi­ral.

In a few years, Singh has amassed over 11 mil­lion sub­scribers and two bil­lion views on the video plat­form, a sold-out in­ter­na­tional com­edy tour and a role in the Mila Ku­nis film Bad Moms. Forbes de­clared her the high­est-paid woman on YouTube and its third-high­est earner over­all, with es­ti­mated 2016 earn­ings of $7.5 mil­lion USD.

Singh had been of­fered book deals be­fore sign­ing with Ran­dom House for How to Be a Bawse, but didn’t feel she had enough to say.

“I didn’t want to write a book just for the sake of it,” she says. “I want it to be some­thing that has a point of view, and a mes­sage. A lot of cool things have hap­pened and I feel that I need to ex­tract the lessons from those ex­pe­ri­ences. Now I feel I can of­fer some­thing.”

Singh says writ­ing the book, which took a year, al­lowed her to show a more vul­ner­a­ble side to her fans.

How to be a Bawse caters mostly to her young 13–24 de­mo­graphic, but her mes­sage to mil­len­ni­als is old school, with chap­ter ti­tles like Don’t Over­think and Com­mit to Your De­ci­sions.

“We are in this en­vi­ron­ment where we’re eas­ily val­i­dated by so­cial me­dia,” says Singh.

“No one wants to go to the gym, they’d rather take a selfie at the gym. But I want to bring back the art of hard work.” (If there’s doubt that the Buz­zFeed gen­er­a­tion is open to mo­ti­va­tional ad­vice from books, Bawse be­came a na­tional best­seller the week af­ter its re­lease.)

Singh tries to live up to her own ad­vice. Yet she is also fear­ful of reach­ing a level of su­per­star­dom where her val­ues be­come blurry.

Ev­ery morn­ing she re­minds her­self: “This is great but don’t for­get the per­son you want to be.”

That also meant learn­ing how to pub­licly ac­knowl­edge her suc­cesses. Singh used to be em­bar­rassed about the Forbes ar­ti­cle, fear­ful of com­ing across as boast­ful. But now, in true bawse style, she says, “I own it and say I am su­per proud.” Sue Carter is the edi­tor at Quill & Quire mag­a­zine.

Getty im­ages

Forbes de­clared Singh the high­est-paid woman on YouTube and its third-high­est earner over­all, with es­ti­mated 2016 earn­ings of $7.5 mil­lion USD.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.