Anyone who knows Lilly Singh knows how much she loves Dwayne Johnson.
It makes sense. Not only are they both Canadian, but Johnson’s career has also been a shining model of versatility and fearlessness: he was a football player, then a wrestler (The Rock!), then one of the highest paid actors on the planet. He sees no limits to his world, and Singh admires him for it.
So when she was offered the chance to host her own late-night show, and felt concerned that it might lead to her being pigeonholed into doing just one thing, Singh called up Johnson for advice, and he told her exactly what she needed to hear: that she’s already surpassed her typecast, and that there’s nothing left to impede her from realizing all of her dreams.
With “A Little Late With Lilly Singh,” Singh is also realizing the dreams of so many others: she is the first and (thus far) only openly queer woman of colour to host a light-night show on a major network.
The first episode of Singh’s show aired Monday night, with clips posted on YouTube, and in her opening monologue, she poked fun at the extensive media fixation on her skin tone and sexuality — it’s hard to be immune to the spell of any “first” — and how she may as well pivot and call her show “A Little Late With Bisexual Woman Of Colour.
But make no mistake, Singh isn’t turning away from these many aspects of her identity.
In her opening video, she blasts the doors off the conventional late-night format by: lampooning the cookie-cutterness of current TV shows, celebrating the more than 50 per cent women writers and people of colour in her writers room, supporting breastfeeding parents, calling out her Canadian and Indian roots, and saying she’d be down to get down with both Sansa and her brother, Jon Snow from “Game Of Thrones.”
Singh also made sure to thank some of the powerful women of colour — Michelle Obama, Mindy Kaling — who have inspired and continue to inspire her, and whose glimmering careers have opened up so many doors for other women who look like them.
Singh came out as bisexual earlier this year, explaining — via Twitter — that while some of her characteristics had previously “proven to be obstacles from time to time,” she was now ready to “fully embrac[e] them as superpowers.”
It was a moment that meant a lot to many of her South Asian fans, who expressed the gravity of a woman who looks like Singh speaking openly about her sexuality.
“A Little Late With Lilly Singh” may have only just aired on television, but it isn’t difficult to trace the path of its spell on the internet. Likewise, Singh is only 30 years old, has just started an adventure that will surely continue to inspire.
Like Johnson, she’s already a beacon of success and opportunity.
“To me what it means is that I’m growing not only in terms of my career but also spiritually, if I may go down that path for a second,” Singh said in an interview with the CBC. Until now, all of her successes have felt like they belonged to her.
“This is the first time in my life where I’m really doing something that feels like it’s not just for me,” she continued. “It has a purpose bigger than itself.”
With a file from Lisa Yeung.