The life and rise of Lilly Singh, the YouTube star who now hosts her own late night show and is now worth over $10 million


lilly singh youtube

  • Lilly Singh emerged in 2013 as a YouTube personality known online as “Superwoman.”
  • Since then, she has accrued nearly 15 million YouTube subscribers, who watch her comedy sketches featuring outlandish persons and comedic skits that often star other YouTubers and famous celebrities.
  • Singh, 31, is now the host of her own late-night television show, and is making history as late night TV’s first host who’s openly queer and a person of color.
  • Singh, who grew up in Canada as a child of Indian immigrants, is now a YouTube and TV star worth more than $10 million. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

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Lilly Singh was born and raised in Scarborough, a town right outside of Toronto, Canada. Her parents were both born in India, and immigrated to Canada before she was born: first, her dad in 1972, then her mom nine years later.

Source: Toronto Life

Singh has been a self-declared “tomboy” since she was little. She also developed an obsession early on with actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson when he was a pro wrestler. She dressed up as him for a school show, kept a life-sized cardboard cutout of him in her bedroom, and woke up at 5 a.m. to watch fights she had recorded.

Source: Toronto Life

As a kid, Singh was constantly acting out skits and performing hip-hop routines for friends and her sister. “Every other kid in school wanted to be a doctor, an engineer, a scientist, and my parents were like, ‘Oh, of course, our daughter wants to be a rapper,'” Singh’s sister, Tina, said in a 2017 interview.

Source: Toronto Life

In high school, Singh got into bhangra, a traditional Indian style of dance. She attended New York University in 2006 to study psychology but found herself putting more time into the bhangra club — which she was president of — than studying.

Her parents didn’t approve of her dancing in public, but they eventually let her do it “because I was going to do it anyway,” Singh told Toronto Life.

Source: Toronto Life

Singh graduated from NYU in 2010 and moved back into her parents’ home in Markham, outside of Toronto. She got a job at a collections agency that she hated.

Source: Toronto Life

“I didn’t have goals. I didn’t feel like eating,” Singh said in an interview with People. “I told myself, ‘You have a choice: Either continue feeling this way or do something to change your life.'”

Source: People

Singh soon discovered YouTube and content creators like Jenna Marbles who were gaining a following by just being themselves. She made her first video at age 22 under the moniker, “Superwoman.”

Source: Toronto Life

Singh has gone by the self-appointed nickname “Superwoman” since she was eight years old. The name comes from a song of the same name by rapper Lil’ Mo.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Singh’s first video to go viral was “Official Guide to Brown Girls,” a series of funny satirical comedy skits about Indian culture. It rocketed to more than 10,000 views in a day. From then on, she invested more time and money into taking YouTube seriously.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Singh became known on YouTube for her comedy skits featuring over-the-top characters and alter-egos, parodying men, her parents, and family members.

Source: Toronto Life

“As a brown girl, I don’t think people expect me to say the things I say,” Singh told the Globe and Mail. “And when I do, they’re like ‘Oh my god, I feel that way, too, I’ve just never said it.'”

Source: Globe and Mail

Singh put graduate school on hold and started earning small checks from ad revenue on YouTube videos. She hit 1 million subscribers in 2013.

In December 2015, she left Toronto for Los Angeles. “I’ve accomplished so much here,” Singh said in a YouTube video at the time. “But I know that it’s going to require me to leave to progress in my career and follow my dreams.”

Source: BuzzFeed News

From then on out, Singh skyrocketed into YouTube stardom. She went on a world tour, inked a book deal, and starred in a movie on streaming service YouTube Red. She raked in thousands of dollars in brand deals and bought a Hollywood condo in 2016.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Singh earned $10.5 million in 2017 and was listed in the top 10 on Forbes’ list of highest-earning YouTube stars.

Source: Forbes

By 2018, Singh was exhausted and miserable trying to keep up with her furious production rate. She told her followers in a raw YouTube video in November 2018 that she was taking a break. “I’ve been doing YouTube consistently for eight years,” she said. “I am mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted.”

Source: Business Insider

Singh’s break was short-lived. She came out as bisexual on Twitter in February 2019, just months after coming out to family and friends. “Throughout my life these have proven to be obstacles from time to time,” Singh tweeted. “But now I’m fully embracing them as my superpowers.”

Source: Hollywood Reporter, Lilly Singh on Twitter

NBC announced in March 2019 that Singh would be taking over the network’s late-night time slot previously filled by Carson Daly.

Source: Huffington Post

Singh became the only female late-night host on a major network, and the first queer person of color to be in that spot. “A Little Late with Lilly Singh” debuted in September 2019, and included a rap parody similar to her YouTube content.

Source: Huffington Post, The Verge