Diversity and identity comprised many of Canadian personality Lilly Singh’s points during her virtual keynote conversation with VIP president and chief media analyst Andrew Wallenstein for the NAB Show Executive Leadership Summit in May 2020, produced in partnership with the Variety Streaming Room.
Going into the second season of her late-night program “A Little Late with Lilly Singh” on NBC, Singh surmises plenty can still be changed, and is motivated to do so partially by her nationality, Punjabi heritage and sexual identity, as well an overall late-night scene crowded with straight white men who primarily focus on current politics.
“There are issues I’m very passionate about and that I’m very vocal about, whether it’s gender equity, whether it’s about legislation regarding women’s bodies, whether it’s about education….and I will continue to talk about through comedy, because I think comedy is a great vehicle for doing that,” Singh said. “There’s lots of places you can go to get informed and hear jokes about politics. I feel like less and less, there are places where you can go where you are not reminded of that. So I want to find balance.”
Still, Singh is wary of how easy it is to be labeled a certain way when you’re a “first” something (in her case, the first female, bisexual person of Indian descent to host a late-night show), reflecting on how she and her program were perceived throughout the first run of episodes.
“I really, truly do believe representation matters, and I think when you see an episode with me and Mindy Kaling and we’re making references about things from our upbringing that are so unique to our culture, that’s beautiful and awesome,” Singh explained. “But, at the same time, I don’t want to be defined as that.”
“I just want to have really good conversations with people. I mean, in some instances, yes, it’s great to have a shiny celebrity, but in other instances, I think there’s so much power and value and just amazingness in having people who just have a story. I don’t really care about their celebrity profile. I just want good conversation and good stories,” Singh said.
For more information on the NAB Show Executive Leadership Summit, please visit www.nabshow.com/els.