‘I’ve Redefined What Success Means to Me’
Actor, writer and comedian Lilly Singh speaks to Smitha Verma about her latest book, the pressures of being a celebrity and future plans.
Was writing this book a cathartic process?
I decided to write this book because, during the pandemic, I realised who I am as a person, what my values are, and what I want to achieve out of life, all fluctuated a lot day to day. If something was going great in my life, I’d be super grateful. I’d be a different person when something was going bad. I didn’t understand who I was, changing so much from day to day. So I concluded that I needed to build a strong foundation of who I am that doesn’t waver. I call this book, “the blueprint for making a safe space in your mind”. The writing process was really challenging, but I’m happy that I went there––both for my own happiness and to have this useful book that I hope others can learn from and reference throughout their lives too.
How would you define this book, which is part memoir, part self-help? Also, how did you come up with such a striking title?
When you Google what has the strongest foundation, the triangle came up in the results as the strongest structural shape in the world. So I thought I should build my life like a triangle.
What does that even mean though practically?
It meant creating a base in my mind to come home to that was strong enough to get me through the daily issues and struggles and to be able to enjoy my life in spite of those issues.
In your book, you have confessed some of your deepest fears––from opening up to your parents, to figuring out friendships. Why was that important?
I really wanted this book to have a long-term solution to feeling lost. Although I still believe in all the things I wrote in my first book, they were solutions for a different time in my life. In this book, I’m much more vulnerable, which is just a natural part of growth and evolution.
What was the most difficult part in this book?
The writing process was really tough. It was unlike anything else I’ve ever written because I had no idea what I wanted to put on these pages at the start. I had to go through this spiritual journey myself first, in order to write this book. The writing process required a lot of me to improve as a person and being vulnerable. I would start the book, stop, delete things, but I’m really pleased with how the book came together and for readers to go on that journey with me.
You are an important voice representing the South Asian community. Do you ever feel the pressure of being a celebrity?
It’s historic to have a woman hosting late night. And the headlines with ‘first Indian’ or ‘first openly bisexual’ are positive because a kid might go, ‘I relate to her!’ But it also came with its own unique set of pressures. I felt the pressure of ‘Don’t make this just about being Indian or being part of the LGBTQ community or ‘Be a proud Indian, but don’t talk about being Indian too much.’ Eventually, I learned I just need to be myself.
How has the Superwoman grown over these years?
I’ve redefined what success means to me. Success is now about having fun and doing what I’m passionate about while also prioritising rest and taking breaks. Now I work really hard on myself too. I’ve simply adjusted where my energy is placed.
What’s next on cards?
I am in the animated movie Bad Guys. I also am a judge on Canada’s Got Talent, which is really cool. I just announced that I’ll be starring in a new Disney+ series, Muppets Mayhem. I also have a book club called Lilly’s Library (@LillysLibrary on Instagram). It’s one of my favourite projects.