Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Lilly Singh interacts with children during a visit to the 
Isibindi Safe Park in Soweto. Picture : Unicef/Prinsloo
What’s it like having over 13 million subscribers on your YouTube channel?

YouTube superstar Lilly Singh doesn’t get carried away by the numbers.

“When I hit one million subscribers I threw a party,” Singh told the Saturday Star.

“I quickly learnt that even though these numeric milestones are cool, they just don’t fulfil me in the way that other things do today.”

Over the last eight years, the Canadian internet sensation has become one of the biggest YouTubers on the planet, racking up 13.9 million followers on her “IISuperwomanII” channel, and has accumulated over 2billion views on her videos.

In 2016, she was the highest- paid female YouTuber, with a net worth of $16 million.

She has also collaborated with some of the most popular celebrities including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Michelle Obama, and Selena Gomez.

Singh is best known for her hilarious videos.

Instead of focusing on her numbers, which rise daily, Singh says she prefers to channel her energy into things that truly matter, like her work with Unicef, which has brought her to South Africa for the first time.

Aside from being a comedian, an actress and a motivational speaker, Singh is also a Global Goodwill Ambassador for Unicef.

She arrived last week to meet children who are speaking out on classroom violence and bullying, as part of Unicef’s work to end violence in schools.

“This trip is about a campaign called ‘Safe To Learn’.

“We looked at what is needed to make sure kids get the most out of their education, because there’s issues like bullying and sexual abuse and gender-based violence and corporal punishment in schools,” she said.

“We wanted to hear the kids’ experiences first hand. We will take that information back to people that actually make a change, like policy makers.”

“Superwoman”, as she is known to her fans, said she was thrilled to be in the country.

“I’ve always had a lot of fans here, since my very first video.

“And on both of my world tours I’ve been unable to come here, so it’s was important to be able to show support back.”

Singh said she began shooting YouTube videos while still a student, as a way of battling depression caused in part by her lack of enthusiasm for a conventional career.

“It wasn’t because I wanted to be rich and famous but because I was going through a really tough time and I didn’t feel like I had a creative outlet - which is very interesting, because a lot of kids I speak to in South Africa have the same issue.

“I posted my first YouTube video and it made me really happy. I posted a second and third video, really not ever thinking it would lead to a career, but then it did. It spiralled into this career and business that I had to learn about.”

Asked if she had any advice for young South Africans who are considering starting up their own YouTube channels, Singh said: “There’s definitely no recipe to success. Sometimes people approach me and ask me what’s the secret. There is no secret, it’s just a lot of hard work.

“It’s definitely being consistent as well. I think the platform is so saturated where you have to constantly offer content, but at the same time it’s got to be something you like.

“We live in a generation where it’s so easy to tell when something’s not authentic. I want everything to be genuine.

“Make your videos about something you actually care about. Don’t say things that you think you supposed to say.

“Don’t put up a front; just be yourself.”

The Saturday Star