Hollywood can keep its red carpets. Lilly Singh, better known by her YouTube username iiSuperwomanii, opted for a pink carpet at the Canadian premiere of her documentary A Trip to Unicorn Island on Feb. 16.
Singh’s family, friends and fans filled the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto for the second screening of the film. The first screening was in Los Angeles just days before. “They told me I could only have one premiere but I told them I had to come home to Toronto,” Singh told the crowd.
A Trip to Unicorn Island is a documentary about Singh’s recent life on tour. The tour involved music, dance and uplifting lectures by Singh, who has been open about her struggle with depression. She said that the tour and documentary brings her “YouTube videos into reality.”
Her YouTube channel has more than seven million subscribers and over one billion views to date. Singh and other Internet personalities have inspired people all over the world to make videos, including Mikael Melo, a second-year RTA school of media student.
Melo started his YouTube channel, mikaelmmelo, three years ago, as a way to connect with his family and friends while he was away at school. “I wanted to be able to make them laugh when I couldn’t physically be there,” he said.
Both the tour and documentary focus on Singh’s battle with depression and how YouTube became an outlet for her. She shares her own experiences with those who are struggling. Singh said if she can help one person look in the mirror and like what they see, she has “done her job.”
“I’m very observant of what’s going around me but if I’m stumped for ideas, truthfully, I ask my fans,” she said. “They’re the ones watching, they’re the ones who know what they want to see.”
Singh offers fans comfort and support toward their battles by publicizing her own. “Unicorn Island” is the hypothetical safe-space she’s created for those struggling.
“‘Unicorn Island’ is when you realize that no matter what the circumstances are, you’re going to be okay,” she said.
She attributes her family and friends for keeping her grounded and often finds inspiration for her videos from her Indian background.
Another YouTuber Jasmeet Singh (no relation to Lilly), also known as JusReign, attended the premiere to show his support for Singh. He spoke about the struggles a child of immigrants may experience while trying to pursue a creative career.
“The thing with immigrant parents is they want you to have a career that they know will guarantee a stable job,” he said.
Singh’s parents were skeptical at first as well, and her father gave her a year to try out YouTube before she pursued a masters degree. Today, she’s traveled all over the world promoting A Trip to Unicorn Island and was recently named one of Forbes’s 30 Under 30.
“I think the reason I worked so hard on my YouTube was because I didn’t want to be stuck working a job I didn’t like for the rest of my life.”