Chris Nicholls Image by: Chris Nicholls
Trying to pick just one standout moment in 2015 is a bit hard for 27-year-old comedian Lilly Singh.
From reaching seven million YouTube subscribers (which earned her a cool $2.5 million last year, making her one of the highest-paid personalities of 2015 on the video-sharing platform) to releasing a song (an ode to Toronto) with Humble The Poet to producing a world tour (A Trip to Unicorn Island) and making Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, Scarborough-born, L.A.-based Singh may just be one of the biggest names in entertainment you’ve never heard of (unless you’re under the age of 17).
She uploaded her first video five years ago to her YouTube channel as a way to overcome depression. “I wanted so badly to be happy,” she says, “so I thought if I can make other people laugh, I can make myself laugh and distract myself with this project.”
The “project” quickly turned into a business when Singh realized there were no female South Asians on the platform speaking openly about the immigrant experience in Canada. “I think it was important, and continues to be important, to show that part of my life simply because it is a part of my life,” says Singh, referring to the hugely popular series in which she imitates her parents.
Today, Singh now has fans worldwide watching her twice-weekly observational humour videos and daily vlogs. How has she navigated becoming a personality in her own right? “With great difficulty,” she says with a laugh. “But I promised myself I would find a balance between being a role model while still being my authentic self. And I will always go out of my way to try to do positive things.”