I'm just rolling with the punches: Lilly Singh
New Delhi: Indian-Canadian star Lilly Singh says her journey from being a YouTube sensation to becoming the first woman to host a late night TV show in the US has been a "complete shock" but it has also given her a bigger platform to tell authentic stories about her upbringing and culture.
Lilly admits hosting a late night show is quite a shift for her, something she is learning about along the way.
"Everything in my life and career has been a complete shock to me. I'm just rolling with the punches. If things I do build a community, I'll consider it a success," she says about her new gig, "A Little Late with Lilly Singh".
The offer for the NBC show, which airs in India exclusively on Star World, came as a surprise to the star, who says she was initially "confused" as she didn't believe that the network wanted her as a host.
"But I was also nervous and excited because it was unlike anything I had done before. It was really big in terms of schedule and how much time it would take from my life," she told PTI in an interview.
Lilly, who made a flying visit to India to promote the show last week, says her fans in the country rallied behind her like never before.
"I was blown away by how positive everyone's response was in India. I have never felt this amount of support with anything else I've done before in my career. India was overwhelmingly supportive and positive. I felt like everybody was rallying behind me."
The late night TV show scene has traditionally been a boy's club but Lilly has already declared that she will be a disrupter.
She is taking the "bisexual woman of colour" tag given to her by the media in her stride by joking about being the one with the "melanin" when people are used to seeing Jimmys, a reference to popular show hosts -- Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.
"I know you're used to only Jimmys in your spotlight/ but I'm gonna throw some melanin in your late night," she had declared in her rap in the first episode.
Lilly, who gained international fame through her online alter-ego 'Superwoman', wants the show, especially her monologues, to represent different shades of her personality.
"I want my monologues to not just be a template read. I want them to be an authentic point of view, from my experiences to my upbringing and culture. I want people to actually get to know me personally so it was important to do what I was doing on YouTube and to build that community that's talking about real, authentic stories," she says.
"Other night show hosts have been great, funny and amazing but you don't really get to know them authentically and genuinely. That's one thing I want to approach differently."
As a host, Lilly says she never thinks in terms of gender but being the first woman, it helps her bring a fresh perspective to the table.
"I'm a woman so my stories, my jokes and my monologues are influenced by that fact. There are few women doing this hence you get a fresh perspective but it's not a part of my agenda. It's more about who I'm."
It is not always easy to open up about one's sexuality but Lilly decided to go public because she believes in walking the talk.
"I'm all for encouraging people to be unapologetically, authentically themselves. I'm a believer of practising what you preach. I've no reservations or inhibitions about being who I am. I was a little late with realising who actually I am. If people like it, it's encouraging, if they don't, it is still okay," she says.
Her parents, she says, have always been proud of her even though they may not completely understand her job.
"But it is surreal for my family and friends and even for me," she says, adding though it has been a month already as a host, the feeling is yet to sink in.
Her hope, for the time being, is to get the season two order with a bigger budget.
"I want people who can have good conversation because ultimately that's the only thing I want with my guests. I don't care who they are if they are down to talk about things and get deep and tell stories they haven't told before," she says.
As far as her YouTube channel is concerned, Lilly says her time has been consumed by the show for now but it is not something that will keep her away.
"I am busy with my late night show so I haven't been able to upload on a regimented schedule. I don't think the show has negatively affected my brand because my brand functions the best when I'm happy and I'm in a really good spot right now. By December, I will probably upload more videos.
- By Shubha Dubey