In a music video called ‘Voices’ on her YouTube channel, Lilly Singh encapsulates her achievements in a pithy rap lyric: “If you don’t know me, I replaced TV, so yeah, I’m entitled.”
Singh, who goes by the moniker ‘Superwoman’ online, is a DIY superstar who became successful by circumventing traditional platforms of network television or studio albums. On her channel, she offers sassy sketches and commentary on everything from online culture and social etiquette to family problems and mental health – all with cheeky and sarcastic brio.
It has brought her international fame, appearances on late-night talk shows and roles in Hollywood films. Now in a book, Singh is sharing some of her hard-earned knowledge and wisdom with fans. Titled How To Be A Bawse (Bawse is millennial speak for a confident and accomplished hustler), she breaks down her journey to stardom into 50 actionable mission statements: “You are not a parking ticket”, “Be secretive” or “Eff protocol”, among others.
Singh’s hustle is constant. She is always dreaming up new content, planning her empire’s expansion and chasing down mega stars to give her an audience. For those who are unaware of her reach and popularity, this book also functions as a neat introduction to what makes her tick.
So who’s the real Lilly Singh? A look at some of what we gleaned from the book:
She is a fan of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Jimmy Fallon for their humility
Singh and The Rock are both personalities who leveraged a huge online fan base into international stardom. About meeting him for the first time, Singh writes, “He acted as if people didn’t know exactly who he was, which was both refreshing and impressive.”
When she made her debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, she was similarly struck by the host’s self-effacing attitude. “Superstardom didn’t stop Jimmy from shaking every person’s hand.”
She has cheat codes to process negative YouTube comments
The four codes that Singh usually relies on are: “Maybe they’re having a bad day,” “Should other opinions impact what you think about yourself?” “I don’t want to stop making videos because they make me happy” and “Maybe I should reply to them.” The last one, she says, is a dangerous path to tread on. “Recognize that replying was suggested to make you feel better. Understand this impulse and catch it before you act on it.”
She devours pop culture for inspiration
Singh is a student of modern pop culture. She name checks her favourite TV shows often in the book – The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. The latter, in particular, gets her creative juices flowing. “Watching the show doesn’t JUST help me relax – it also helps me become better at my craft,” she says. If inspiration is hard to come by, she lists a few names she always depends on. “If I’m struggling to write a comedy script, I’ll watch an interview with Rebel Wilson or Amy Schumer. If I’m struggling to write lyrics, I’ll watch an interview with Nicki Minaj or Drake.”
She has always battled depression
Singh peppers the book with little notes, titled “Out of the Blue” that capture her state of mind from all the times she was feeling her lowest. Coping with her condition has taught her to love herself, says Singh. “When I experienced these episodes, I had to treat myself with extra love and care. I didn’t want to go back to a place of depression, so I became my own best friend.”
One of the best advice she ever heard came from Snoop Dogg
A fan of the iconic rapper, Singh recalls having a face-to-face moment with him during a YouTube creator summit. “He was participating in a panel about staying relevant in the industry and I was sitting on the edge of my seat trying to soak in all the wisdom. When asked how he has been able to have such a long, successful career, Snoop Dogg replied, ‘I’m the dumbest person on my team and that’s how I do it.’”
Singh concurs with that sentiment saying that at the risk of seeming stupid, it’s important to be dumb. “Wasting an opportunity to learn seems pretty dumb to me,” she writes.
How To Be A Bawse is published by Penguin Random House India