Over the past decade or so, millions of people across the world have met fame and fortune over YouTube. Whether it’s through makeup tutorials, vlogs, cleaning hacks, or style challenges, YouTube is where anyone with an idea, a photogenic smile, and the gift of the gab goes to make a buck. Although not every YouTuber is guaranteed a full-time living from the site, for those that manage to tap into the zeitgeist, the rewards speak for themselves. Jeffree Star, Daniel Middleton, Felix Kjellberg, Jake Paul, Logan Paul, Sean McLoughlin … the list of YouTubers sat on multi-million-dollar fortunes goes on.
But, hold on… where all the women? Is YouTube yet another place where women get a raw deal in the pay stakes? Kinda. As of 2020, the YouTube Rich List is still dominated by the boys. But fortunately, the girls are starting to fight back. The likes of Lilly Singh, Jenna Marbles, Liza Koshy, Trisha Paytas, and Anastasia Radzinskaya are all beginning to make their presence known, with several just a few million away from nudging into the top ten richest. But which of them is the richest? Ask any tween, teen, or twenty-something the same question, and they’ll have no hesitation in their answer. Anyone born prior to the mid-1990s might have a bit more trouble. So, let’s clear things up. With a net worth currently purported by Celebrity Net Worth to be in the region of $15 million, the richest female Youtuber for 2020 is Lilly Singh. But who exactly, is Lilly Singh? And how did she manage to get so filthy rich? Hold tight, you’re about to find out.
Who is Lilly Singh?
In September 1988, Lilly Singh was born in Scarborough, Toronto to Malwinder Kaur and Sukhwinder Singh, emigrants from Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India. After studying at Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute in Toronto, she spent 4 years at York University in Toronto. Unlike most fresh graduates, Singh didn’t waste too much time getting started on her chosen career. In 2010, the same year she graduated from York with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, she launched her first YouTube channel under the pseudonym “IISuperwomanII”. At the time, the number of people making a full-time career on YouTube was relatively small. Unsure whether IISuperwomanII would make the grade, she made a wager with herself: if the channel didn’t take off, she’d quit YouTube and go back to school. To say it took off would be an understatement. By 2011, she’d gathered enough fans to launch a second channel “SuperwomanVlogs” (subsequently re-titled “Lilly Singh Vlogs”). The success of her vlogs continued to go from strength to strength; by 2017, she was the proud holder of a People’s Choice Award for “Favorite YouTube Star” and four Streamy Awards. But by then, her ambitions had started to grow beyond the confines of YouTube… as had her achievements.
The Rise and Rise of Lilly Singh
In 2011, Singh took her first steps in the wider world of entertainment when she appeared as a background dancer in the movies Speedy Singhs and Thank You. From there, she featured alongside Jassi Sidhu in his track Hipshaker, rapped in Mauj Ki Malharein in the Bollywood drama Gulaab Gang, and released a track titled #LEH with Kanwer Singh.
In 2015, things went stratospheric for Singh when she launched her first world tour. Titled A Trip to Unicorn Island, the tour combined all the elements of Singh’s career that had turned her into a major star: singing, dancing, music performances, and comedy. Covering India, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the tour elevated her from simple YouTuber to worldwide sensation. The accompanying documentary also managed to win Singh her first Streamy Award, her first MTV Fandom Award, and two Teen Choice Award nominations.
Her success by that point was phenomenal… but it still wasn’t enough for the ever-ambitious Singh. In July 2015, Singh decided to abandon her native Toronto and relocate to LA in a bid to take her career to the next level. “This city [Toronto] has been the greatest comfort zone for me. All my friends are here, all my family is here, and I’ve accomplished so much here, but I know that it’s going to require me to leave to progress in my career and follow my dreams, ” she told MTV at the time.
The move clearly paid off. By 2016, she’d managed to push her annual earnings to a massive $10.5 million, giving her an 8th place position on Forbes’ list of World’s Top-Earning YouTube Stars (not to mention two Teen Choice Awards, a place on Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch, and an honorable mention at the Just For Laughs Film Festival in Montreal).
Four years on, her success is showing no signs of waning anytime soon. Over the past few years, she’s built her brand further with voice-over work in Ice Age: Collision Course and a cameo in Bad Moms. Her first book, How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life, soared to the No. 1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list, while her late-night talk show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, premiered to rave reviews on September 16, 2019. She’s also featured in HBO’s film adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, appeared as an ambassador for Pantene shampoo, been cast in a starring role on the NBC pilot Bright Futures (which was canceled before it hit our screens, but hey, a starring role is a starring role), and launched her own production company, Unicorn Island Productions.
As Wiki comments, in the last year alone, Singh has managed to garner 400k followers and over 3 million total likes on TikTok, while also finding time to help bring a National Women’s Soccer League team to Los Angeles… little wonder then, how she’s managed to become the richest female YouTuber of 2020.