When Lilly Singh’s show “A Little Late with Lilly Singh” premieres Monday, she will make history as the first woman of color and openly bisexual late-night host.
“I got to just say a huge shout-out to all the women who have been before me, and are currently in this space, because I couldn’t have done it without them paving a path,” said Singh, when breaking the news earlier this year on Jimmy Fallon, “Your girl is getting her own NBC late-night show.”
Singh calls herself a “hustler” and built an empire of over 14 million subscribers on her YouTube channel. But the online star, who is Indian-Canadian, hesitated to take the job at first. She had just announced on her YouTube channel that she was going to take a break due to her own mental health. She reportedly changed her mind after seeking the consul of her friend Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who told her she could create her own path.
Singh is not just hosting her own late night show, but producing it. Her production studio Unicorn Island manages the show alongside Universal TV.
“I want to make things I didn’t have growing up, create stories and characters I didn’t see,” said Singh to Entrepreneur about why she started Unicorn Island Productions.
Singh plans to use her platform to diversify entertainment by making her writer’s room gender equal. She hired three men and three women — Mona Mira, Jen Burton, Sean O’Connor, Marina Cockenburg, Sergio Serna and Jonathan Giles — which makes her show notable in the world of late-night talk shows. A recent Los Angeles Times study found that not one late-night talk show has a staff that is gender equal.
Singh has long been a proponent of women. She started a campaign in December 2015 called #GirlLove which supported women’s education by raising funds through a jewelry campaign and one of her YouTube videos. She called on people to destroy girl on girl hate. In other YouTube videos, she campaigns for people to work just as hard as she does, all while having a smile on her face.
Time will tell if “A Little Late with Lily Singh” proves to be a launching pad for other women of color in the entertainment industry. But one thing is clear: Singh has already broken barriers.