Even though she's known on YouTube as IISuperwomanII, she wasn't always so self-assured.
Photo: Christopher Polk / Getty Images
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 14 million subscribers. And a starring role in the HBO film Fahrenheit 451, which debuted in May, had her reaching a larger audience than ever.
These days she’s feeling confident in her own skin—literally. For her first-ever walk down the runway, she opened Olay’s NYFW show totally makeup free. (More on that: Olay’s New Campaign Features a Squad of Fearless Women Who Will Walk In NYFW Makeup-Free) 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 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. 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."
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'm always adjusting.
"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.)
Get out of your bubble.
“I recently traveled to Ecuador to learn about the culture and about the different medicines and healing practices that they do. I think it’s important to experience different cultures to open up your point of view. It was really cool, it was actually a little emotional. You went into this deep meditation that was assisted by this beautiful environment of sounds literally in the middle of the jungle, so it was quite spiritual.”
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!'"
Loving yourself is everything.
“Once I posted a picture of myself in a crop top on Instagram I got comments like ‘wow you need to work out’ and things like that. It immensely bothered me but then I had to talk to myself and really think about how I view myself, and I posted another one right after. I’ve really gotten to a place where it would take a lot to make me feel bad about myself now because I do love myself. And I love eating fries, so that’s not gonna stop.”
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.)