Lilly Singh is ready to dominate the world
TORONTO — YouTube mega-star Lilly Singh didn’t want to pen just any old self-help book — she wanted her advice to rock the shelves.
So when she embarked on writing “How to Be a Bawse” — her slang for an epic “boss” — it was an all-or-nothing affair.
“I never do anything less than 200 per cent,” she says, “which is both amazing and slightly problematic.”
When you’ve already conquered the Internet with 11.5 million YouTube subscribers it gives you some freedom in the publishing world. Singh wanted her debut to have a certain sheen and the book has it with a glossy magazine-like paper stock and colourful pages.
“When I read books the esthetic is the large part for me,” she says. “Everything down to how the pages feel.”
Singh talked to The Canadian Press about making a foray into a new medium, tips for managing digital distractions, and her future.
CP: You pack the book with tips for readers trying to balance their busy lives with the plentiful distractions in today’s social media world. One of the best tips you suggest is getting a friend to change your Netflix password when you need to focus, and only letting them reward you with the new password when you’ve completed the task. How’d you come up with that?
Singh: I had a friend once who told me to change their Facebook password. And then I forgot it, so she really just had to restart her account. But it goes down to the fact sometimes we can’t control ourselves and we’re disappointing ourselves, so the best thing is to put it in someone else’s hands. The easiest thing is passwords, (they) control everything we do in life. I barely remember my own password, as is.
CP: You talk about Netflix a lot. Are you addicted?
Singh: I’m just an addict to everything that has good content — so YouTube, Netflix, HBO, all of that. If I have a creative block when I’m writing a (YouTube) script, I will watch an episode of a new show. More often than not, I will think of at least two script ideas.
CP: So what have you been watching?
Singh: I just finished “Santa Clarita Diet,” Drew Barrymore’s new show. It’s a comedic zombie show and I’m like, “I want to do something zombie on my channel.”
CP: Have you seen the series “13 Reasons Why”? It’s generating a lot of controversy over its portrayal of suicide and how one teenager’s classmates were totally oblivious to her mental state.
Singh: I actually just started watching it. I’m like four episodes in. I definitely resonate with the idea that you don’t always know what’s going on with someone’s life. Sometimes even being in the public eye I get that a lot. I get people who meet me for all of 10 seconds and make a judgment call on who I am, and have no idea what the rest of my day is like.
CP: You address your own depression in the book; highlight your state of mind in 2009 at your lowest and frame it against a more recent moment when you felt success. Why was addressing that important?
Singh: I wanted to show ... that I have been through some challenges. I didn’t find it important to talk about what those challenges were, just the fact that I’ve been through a really tough period. I wanted to talk about that so people knew they were taking advice from someone who’s actually had to pick herself back up.
CP: You talk about dreams of acting in films but recount a particularly stressful Hollywood audition. Have you set aside that goal for now?
Singh: I hate auditions so much, but I understand they’re a necessary evil and I do them. After my book tour is done I’ll probably do a lot more.
CP: What would be your ideal role?
Singh: It would definitely be a Khaleesi — “Game of Thrones.” I just wanna kill people, ya know? I wanna be powerful. I wanna ride a horse. And I’d like to behead someone on TV. I think that’s very fun. Dragons? I mean, come on.
CP: You finished the Canadian leg of your book tour and will embark on a run of global dates throughout May. What’s next for Lilly Singh?
Singh: Immediately? Pad Thai. After that, I’m going to dominate the world in one way or another.
Lilly Singh, author of “How to be a Bawse,” says she never does anything less than 200 per cent.