"I just want to be myself," says Lilly Singh in the opening scene of the first episode of her show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, which just aired on NBC.
Lilly Singh, known formerly for her famous YouTube persona, iiSuperwomanii, has always been unabashedly herself. One of her most popular and earliest videos is on 'Punjabi mothers,' which shot her into YouTube limelight. Lots of things have changed since then, Lilly Singh dropped the alias name, changed her content, changed her platform for content, but despite it all, Singh has still been unapologetically herself - brown, bold and very, very desi.
Despite being Canadian, Singh has always been representative of the brown desi woman. One of the largest female YouTubers, Singh was right up there with PewDiePie and Zoella and NigaHiga. She, undoubtedly, is the only brown YouTuber most kids recognized who made into the mainstream. Singh also has been very vocal about racism, and discrimination. In one of her first-ever videos, she defends why it's important to have a brown Miss America.
She starts the show with a rap. The lyrics are quite powerful. "I ain't no white man"... "My skin got some colour and it ain't a spray tan" ... "I'm going to throw some melanin in your late night"... "This used to be a boys club, but I'm knocking down the doors."
In the show, Singh breaks several stereotypes-- including colder work-spaces for women, breastfeeding rooms, hiring across races, more women representation. Singh sums it up by saying, "It's not because I had to, it's because I could."
Singh's first episode is summed up in her own words, "This is the new standard, so take notes, Hollywood."
This sentiment wasn't lost on her fans, and several shared how this was the gender and brown representation in mainstream American show that they've been waiting for.
Representation matters. Thank you for fighting for it, Lilly. ✊🏽💛
— Nabela Noor (@Nabela) September 17, 2019
I don't want to make this about colour BUT There's a brown woman hosting a late night TV show. You have no idea how excited I used to get seeing a brown face on TV as a child. It happened once every 2 years. 😂 #LateWithLilly — Aagy (@ItsAagy) September 17, 2019
Never thought I'd hear Tamil spoken on a late night show.#LateWithLilly
— P.Thayananthasothy (@explicit1990) September 17, 2019
I'm tweeting #LateWithLilly because: Female Coloured Canadian-indian Bisexual From the digital space What else do you need! — Tania ❤ #LateWithLilly (@LillysLocks) September 16, 2019
i’m living for the brown representation #LateWithLilly
— Frat Daddy Harry ♔ (@sleepinaussie) September 17, 2019
I am so proud. History being made. Such queens. My brown heart is screaming internally 😍😀🙌👑 #LateWithLilly — Ʈẳɍȩşḧ (@TDaystar) September 17, 2019
Literally the worst picture I could take but this is something that’s making me emotional cause that’s a brown person?? On my screen?? Like ahh this is amazing #LateWithLilly pic.twitter.com/D1eiAkPZkD
— Diya Shah (@Diya_Shah0929) September 17, 2019
For fans, it's not about seeing familiar faces. It's about seeing a brown woman on screen, still being herself and not pandering to white-only audiences. It's looking at the screen and finally relating to the person on it, because she looks and acts like you, and is still successful. And of course, who better than Mindy Kaling to be on the first show?
Singh's tweets, in fact, perfectly summarises why seeing someone like her on television matters.
I’m tweeting #LateWithLilly because little Lilly never thought someone who looked like her could have a talk show. — Lilly Singh // #LateWithLilly (@Lilly) September 16, 2019