From battling depression to being the highest-paid female YouTuber — Lilly Singh, the 'Superwoman'Think Change India
"That terrible mood of depression of whether it's any good or not is what is known as The Artist's Reward."
~ Ernest Hemingway
Depression and anxiety are on the rise, afflicting over five crore Indians, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO). Around 3.8 crore people in India suffered from anxiety disorders and depression in 2015. Most of these cases led to suicide, which has also been going up at an alarming rate in India.
Internet sensation Lilly Singh aka || Superwoman || is now one of YouTube's highest-paid stars in the world and her story is one that can inspire all of us.
Lilly was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Born to Malwinder Singh and Sukhwinder Singh on September 26, 1988, Lilly was raised in Sikh traditions. Being the youngest one in the house, Lilly was adored and was a tomboy as a child, as she once said. She graduated from Lester B Pearson Collegiate Institute in 2006 and she acquired a degree in psychology from York University in 2010.
During her final year of college, Lilly's grandfather, with whom she had a strong connection, passed away. Unable to cope with it, she went through severe depression. After having acquired the degree, she took a year off, not knowing what to do with life. In an interview with The Hindu, she said,
I remember writing the applications for my masters and then going ‘Oh my god! I don’t even want to do these applications, how am I going to do this for four years?' It was during that time, between sending applications, that I decided on doing YouTube videos seriously and I already had a few videos out at that time. At that moment, I walked up to my parents and was like ‘Hey! I’ve decided that I am not going to do my masters, and instead I am going to make YouTube videos!'
Speaking about how it happened, she compares it with the cliche Bollywood scenario. She told The Hindu,
I was on a vacation in Mexico with my family and going for a walk, it was so like Bollywood, sat at the beach and had a talk with myself. I think for the first time I asked myself — ‘What makes you happy? What do you want to do?’ And the answer was: ‘Entertaining people makes me really happy.’ ‘What am I doing right now that involves that? I am making YouTube videos. So let’s put all my effort into that and see where it goes.’ The second I flew back home, I started making YouTube videos.
One after the other, her videos hit the right chords and within a jiffy, she made millions of dollars through YouTube. She has a theory that the name Superwoman came from a childhood idea that she had an invisible 'S' on her chest, making her believe she could do anything she wanted to. Her videos mainly comprise centre around the typical Punjabi and Indian cultures and are satirical takes on how things are in the desi world. Her most popular video till date is 'How girls get ready' and her most popular series includes her fictional parents, Paramjeet and Manjeet, both played by Lilly herself. She also made videos out of her meetings with top celebrities like Michelle Obama, Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, and Selena Gomez.
Soon enough, on September 25, 2016, which was a night before her birthday, Lilly's channel received a 'Diamond Play' button although she hadn't hit the 10-million-subscribers milestone by then. On October 25, a month after she received the Diamond Play button, she reached the milestone. She quickly ventured into a second channel, 'Superwoman Vlogs', which now has over 1.8 million subscribers and 210 million views. Lilly has also done plenty of live performances and even acted in a few Hollywood movies.
In 2014, her channel || Superwoman || was ranked at number 39 on the New Media Rockstars Top 100 Channels. In September 2015, People magazine featured Lilly on their annual 'Ones to Watch' list. She even received her first MTV Fandom Award and was also nominated for a couple of Teen Choice Awards. Lilly won her first Streamy Award later in the same year. Very soon, she was ranked 8th on Forbes' list of World's Highest-Paid YouTube Stars of 2015. She was also featured in Fast Company magazine among the 100 most creative people in business. In January 2016, she went on to win a People's Choice Award for Favourite YouTube star.
Lilly is well known to be someone who keeps her word. At the end of every video of hers, she mentions that she is coming up with a new video which will be out by the coming Monday and Thursday and she sticks to it. In 2016, Lilly earned $7.5 million, which makes her the highest-paid female YouTuber and third highest of all time.
According to The Hindu, here are Lilly's thoughts on freedom of expression:
No matter what I put out, somebody will be offended. I made a video on 10 reasons to smile, and it has dislikes. That should be an indication that there will be some who get offended not matter what you do. The best you can do as an entertainer or as someone who performs is to follow what you believe in.
You can’t really do anything else. If you say ‘I don’t want to offend anyone’ then don’t get on stage. Just ask yourself ‘Do I think it is right? Do I think it is offensive? And do I think that everyone is okay to hear this? If I truly believe this then I should go and do this.’