How True Superhero Lilly Singh Became a Real Life Superwoman

Most YouTubers find success first and then become the target of abuse, but for Lilly Singh the trolls reversed the running order. She was calling out racist, sexist bigots in the comments below her videos long before her channel became successful, and she continued to fight bullying as her audience grew. She now has 15m subscribers and a role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and has taken the fight against bullying worldwide, but it’s no great surprise that someone who has been calling herself Superwoman since high school should go on to become a True Superhero!

How True Superhero Lilly Singh Became a Real Life Superwoman
Lilly in her other role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

The origins of Superwoman

Lilly was born in 1988 in the outskirts of Toronto, Canada and her parents were hard-working Indian immigrants; her mother worked at a CD manufacturing company, while her dad was a factory worker, cab driver, and furniture salesman before eventually opening his own gas station. They gave Lilly and her older sister Tina a traditional Sikh upbringing, but growing up Lilly was anything but traditional, describing herself as “something of a tomboy”, wearing baggy clothes and being mainly interested in wrestling - and particularly her childhood idol, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Perhaps inspired by the larger-than-life characters of the wrestling ring, Lilly began to develop a heroic alter-ego of her own, adopting the persona of Superwoman. She later explained this by saying: “Like any kid, I wanted so badly to deal with life’s obstacles like a hero. As I grew up, I held on to this belief that everyone could be their own superhero. Until this day I truly believe that we have all the tools we need to be our own saving grace.”

How True Superhero Lilly Singh Became a Real Life Superwoman

BY
SPYSCAPE
5
MINUTE READ
Share with Twitter
@SPYSCAPE
Share
Share to Facebook
Share to Twitter
Share with email

Most YouTubers find success first and then become the target of abuse, but for Lilly Singh the trolls reversed the running order. She was calling out racist, sexist bigots in the comments below her videos long before her channel became successful, and she continued to fight bullying as her audience grew. She now has 15m subscribers and a role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and has taken the fight against bullying worldwide, but it’s no great surprise that someone who has been calling herself Superwoman since high school should go on to become a True Superhero!

How True Superhero Lilly Singh Became a Real Life Superwoman
Lilly in her other role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

The origins of Superwoman

Lilly was born in 1988 in the outskirts of Toronto, Canada and her parents were hard-working Indian immigrants; her mother worked at a CD manufacturing company, while her dad was a factory worker, cab driver, and furniture salesman before eventually opening his own gas station. They gave Lilly and her older sister Tina a traditional Sikh upbringing, but growing up Lilly was anything but traditional, describing herself as “something of a tomboy”, wearing baggy clothes and being mainly interested in wrestling - and particularly her childhood idol, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Perhaps inspired by the larger-than-life characters of the wrestling ring, Lilly began to develop a heroic alter-ego of her own, adopting the persona of Superwoman. She later explained this by saying: “Like any kid, I wanted so badly to deal with life’s obstacles like a hero. As I grew up, I held on to this belief that everyone could be their own superhero. Until this day I truly believe that we have all the tools we need to be our own saving grace.”

Article Ad
Article Ad
Article Ad

As Lilly grew older, she found the obstacles in her life harder to deal with; work and social pressures piled up and, in her third year of college, she endured a serious depressive episode which she later described on her channel, saying: “I honestly felt as if my entire life collapsed. Over the next few months I fell into a severe depression. I lost my appetite and my desire to wake up in the morning. I wouldn’t answer my phone and I lost a lot of friends. I had no goals, no aspirations, and no motivation… as scary as it sounds I can honestly say I lost my desire to live.” She described how she was in this slump for a year, and then took another year to recover: “I eventually learned to talk about my feelings, create healthy relationships, and most importantly, to love myself. It became my goal to take all the pains of depression and transform those pains into lessons and tools I could use to better my life.” 

Fighting depression and bullies… like a bawse! 

YouTube helped to provide an outlet for Lilly’s creative ambitions. “I wanted a way to cheer myself up and also cheer other people up… and from a business point of view, when I discovered YouTube, I saw that there were no South Asian females doing it, so I thought it was a great opportunity.” She quickly discovered that she had a unique talent for making videos that made lots of people laugh, and although success did not come overnight, it soon became apparent that she wasn’t just the most successful South Asian female on the platform, but one of the most successful YouTube comedians anywhere on the planet.

How True Superhero Lilly Singh Became a Real Life Superwoman
Lilly alongside the cast of her YouTube family (who are all also Lilly)

Superwoman uploaded her first videos in January of 2011 and by April of that year she was celebrating her first 1,000 subscribers. Even this small hint of online fame provoked an immediate flood of abusive comments and, before 2011 was out, she found herself posting her first anti-bullying video. Fortunately, she was gaining many more fans than haters and soon after she posted her first viral hit: Sh*t Punjabi Mothers Say, featuring her first impersonation of her mother.This was swiftly followed by Sh*t Punjabi Fathers Say, which added some amazing facial hair to the already successful formula. Emboldened by these early successes, Lilly devoted all of her time and energy into growing her channel with impressive results: by August 2013 the Superwoman channel had sailed through the 1m subscriber mark and showed no signs of slowing down.

By 2016, that figure had increased to 10m subscribers and Lilly was producing hugely ambitious big budget productions that put network television sketch shows to shame - such as a reimagining of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, set in a modern high school - but part of her enduring success was her willingness to stick with what had made her successful in the first place: comic monologues to camera and hilarious impersonations of her parents. Meanwhile, she was also devoting large amounts of her time to the other thing that had characterized her early, pre-fame content: anti-bullying campaigns. 

Spreading love and goodwill

The most successful video of Lilly Singh’s storied Youtube career is Three Girls, One Elevator, with over 53m views since 2016. The video features Canadian model Winnie Harlow and award-winning actress Zendaya, who both share an elevator ride with Lilly. The three women size each other up and we hear their jealous thoughts about how good the other two look before the ride is briefly interrupted by a token hunk. The ice is broken and the three women finally bond with each other, but the elevator ride ends all too quickly. The video’s description sums up the message: “Wouldn't it be awesome if more women said ’Hi’ to each other, turned jealousy into compliments, cut the drama, and became friends? Make the first move and spread some #GirlLove.” 

By Lilly’s standards, it’s an understated and subtle video, but one that struck a chord with her audience, and it led her to focus more on activism both on and off YouTube. She became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2017, visiting schools in places as diverse as India, Kenya, and South Africa to campaign against classroom violence and bullying. In 2018 she took this campaign a step further, speaking to the UN on behalf of UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited campaign, lobbying for improved resources to help children worldwide reach their full potential, as she herself had done. 

Becoming Lilly Singh

At the end of 2018, Lilly announced that she would be taking a break from the channel that made her famous; like many successful YouTube creators, she had ultimately found the constant pressure of creating and uploading videos had left her “mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted”. Her retirement from YouTube gave her time to focus on other projects and she has subsequently found success on larger screens, hosting her own NBC talk show and becoming a judge on Canada’s Got Talent. She’s also written two well regarded self-help books, 2017’s How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life and Be a Triangle: How I Went from Being Lost to Getting My Life Into Shape in 2021. Elsewhere, she’s been a prominent voice in Covid vaccination campaigns, and has used her social media platforms to highlight cases of racial injustice and support the Black Lives Matter campaign.

One other change in Lilly’s career is that she no longer goes by the pseudonym Superwoman; in 2019, she announced on Instagram that she wanted to be known by her real name again, saying: “Lilly has become an even bigger hero than Superwoman on this journey through my life. Lilly encompasses everything it took to get to where I am... and it’s a place I’m proud to be. And so, at this time, it feels right to give thanks to the moniker Superwoman and to lay the cape to rest.” Although she’s no longer Superwoman, Lilly Singh’s status as a True Superhero is assured. 

Read mORE

RELATED aRTICLES

Gadgets & Gifts

Put your spy skills to work with these fabulous choices from secret notepads & invisible inks to Hacker hoodies & high-tech handbags. We also have an exceptional range of rare spy books, including many signed first editions.

Shop Now

Your Spy SKILLS

We all have valuable spy skills - your mission is to discover yours. See if you have what it takes to be a secret agent, with our authentic spy skills evaluation* developed by a former Head of Training at British Intelligence. It's FREE so share & compare with friends now!

dISCOVER Your Spy SKILLS

* Find more information about the scientific methods behind the evaluation here.