Even though she's known on YouTube as IISuperwomanII, she wasn't always so self-assured.
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Lilly Singh, 29, is making waves. The popular entertainer is using the power of her platforms—including YouTube, TV, and film—to help women and girls around the world. Her YouTube channel, IISuperwomanII, currently has over 13 million subscribers. And her latest project—a starring role in the HBO film Fahrenheit 451, which debuted on May 19—has her reaching a larger audience than ever. Here, how she found herself in the spotlight, how she's giving back, and how she stays confident no matter what.
I found my voice when…
"I discovered YouTube in 2010. At the time, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my future. I posted a video on YouTube for fun, and it made me really happy. The idea of people around the world relating to what I was saying made me feel less alone."
I'm all about helping others.
"My mission is to live a life that impacts others. I started a social campaign called #GirlLove to teach girls and women that it's cool to support one another. Together, we can put an end to the idea that women have to be harshly competitive and judge each other. I've done videos with Michelle Obama, Charlize Theron, and Mila Kunis to help spread that message. I also worked with the global organization We Day to create #GirlLove rafiki bracelets. We raised enough money to send 1,000 girls in Kenya to school." (Related: 14 Things You Can Buy to Support Women's Health Organizations)
I keep it real.
"When I started on YouTube, I was one of the first South Asian females to do comedy. I think that was shocking for everyone. I just keep it real and consistent. I show my audience the effort that goes into what I do—they see me pulling all-nighters. I think they watch me because I'm someone who works really hard, and they get to follow me like a friend in a very honest way."
Loving yourself is everything.
"Confidence is: I really believe in who I am, and I don't need the validation of other people. That's something I really had to learn. Confidence comes from self-love, and there was a time when I didn't love myself and I had to learn how to do that. I think the first step for me was to say, let me surround myself with people who make me a better version of myself, who lift me up and build me up instead of putting me down. Also, let me surround myself with an environment that inspires me, not one that makes me sad and makes me tired all the time. It's about proactively making changes in my life." (Learn how to boost your confidence in five easy steps.)
You have more power than you realize.
"As women, we need to stop thinking that we have to survive life, and instead start conquering it. There's a tendency to think, 'Okay, let me just get through the day. It's a long day and I've got to get through it.' What we need to do instead is say, 'It's going to be a long day and I'm going to give it my all. I'm going to kill this day!'"
I believe in the domino effect.
"For my birthday last September, a number of my followers did good deeds, like donating to a charity or volunteering in their countries. That made me so proud. I didn't tell them to do that—they did that on their own. That's the kind of legacy I want to leave." (Here's why you should consider booking a fitness-meets-volunteering trip.)