Lilly Singh says Hollywood still ‘struggles with diversity in true sense’

Singh said, she wants to do more "loud and destructive" work

illysf Lilly Singh | Facebook

From being a YouTube sensation to becoming the first woman to host a late night TV show in the US, Lilly Singh has come a long way in her career and going ahead the Indian-Canadian star says she wants to use her position in highlighting South Asian talent.

Speaking on the inaugural day of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2022, the comedienne-host said that Hollywood, although taking small steps towards representation, still "really struggles with diversity in true sense".

On her part, Singh said, she wants to do more "loud and destructive" work in long format -- especially if it puts South Asian people in the centre.

"I am definitely getting more into TV and films .. So I am definitely going to write (in) longer form, I have over 1,000 scripted sketches on YouTube but that is short form I want to start producing more, directing, and more anything that is loud and destructive, and especially if it highlights South Asian people.

"I will be very open about my agenda. My agenda is to make sure South Asian people get the credit they deserve because I know so often they do not," said the Indian-origin artiste in the session "Lilly's Library: Be A Triangle".

Singh, whose next book "Be a Triangle: How I Went from Being Lost to Getting My Life Into Shape" will hit the stands in April, believes the entertainment industry is taking small steps towards inclusion and diversity.

"It is no secret that I work in an industry that, although taking small steps towards diversity, still really struggles with diversity in a true sense. There are only a handful of shows and movies in America that show South Asians on screen."

Her aim, the content creator said, is to tell stories which have "nuanced and complex" portrayal of South Asians.

"I would love to turn on my television and see a very nuanced, complex, South Asian lead. It gonna take baby steps to get there. Right now we are in the world of 'Hey Happy Diwali! You know Diwali, the festival of lights?', and we have to explain every part about us because we still need to make sure a White executive can understand what the story is about," she added.

The 33-year-old author-actor also talked about her recently launched book club "Lilly's Library" that aims to highlight works of South Asian authors and broaden their representation in the world of literature.

According to Singh, the club was started because she learnt that "books are way more progressive than Hollywood", and that there are a lot of great South Asian stories out there not getting their due credit.

"This is a book club that celebrates South Asian stories that the world will enjoy. You don't need to be a South Asian to enjoy these stories. I wanna show you that even though you and I haven't had the same experience you will enjoy our stories because we have something to offer. I think so often the South Asian stories are not given that credit," she added.

When asked what motivated her to turn author as she already holds such a significant presence on various social media platforms and television, Singh said writing gives her an opportunity to tap into a side of herself that she probably wouldn't feel comfortable in showing someone.

"Mostly when I meet people they know everything about me, sometimes they know things about me that even I don't know about me ... but then what I have written in this book really requires that deep reflection that you don't always get in the moment when you are talking with someone.

"There were moments when I wrote this book .. and I would be typing and I would read what I wrote and I thought 'you are lying to yourself, there is no one here why are you lying to yourself?', and then I would erase it and would say 'no get deeper, get honest'. And that was the big part of writing this book. It was even being honest with myself," she said.

"Be a triangle", touted to be a primer on learning to come home to your truest and happiest self, comes five years after Singh's debut bestseller "How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life" (2017).

The 15th edition of JLF, will be held online till March 9, and on ground -- at its new venue of Hotel Clarks Amer in Jaipur -- from March 10-14.

Turkish bestselling novelist Elif Shafak, 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist Jonathan Franzen, 2021 Booker winner Damon Galgut, Australian author and 2003 Booker winner DBC Pierre, Hollywood actor-writer Rupert Everett, and eminent Jamaican poet Kei Miller are among the 250 authors participating in the JLF this year.