TORONTO — As she blazes a trail in late-night entertainment, Lilly Singh has some celebrity heavyweights to help mark the path.
The Toronto-raised YouTube sensation says a slew of stars have reached out to offer support ahead of the Sept. 16 debut of her talk show, "A Little Late with Lilly Singh."
"What was so sweet and overwhelming was the day I announced my show, Miley Cyrus, who I've never met and never interacted with, to be honest, she (direct-messaged) me and instantly was like, 'I want to be on your show,' and then told me that she reached out to NBC directly to be like, 'I want to be on Lilly's show,'" Singh said in a recent interview.
"She's been so, so supportive. Another person: Amy Schumer (said) 'Can't wait to be on your show.' Amy Schumer actually referred writers to me. Chelsea Handler, same thing. So many people, especially women, have just been championing not only me but the show so much and that's been really special for me — to feel like all these people have my back."
Debuting at 12:35 a.m. ET on Global in Canada, an hour before it airs on NBC in the U.S., "A Little Late with Lilly Singh" makes the Indian-Canadian actress-comedian-writer the first woman of colour — who also happens to be openly bisexual — to host a daily late-night show on a major broadcast network.
"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," said Singh, 30.
So far, Singh's successes been all about her, she says: "My YouTube channel, my tour, my book, my this, my that. And this is the first time in my life where I'm really doing something that feels like it's not just for me. It has a purpose bigger than itself.
"My hope is that it's going to help pave the path for people that otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to do what they want to do, just like women have done for me to get me into this position. So being a woman of colour in this position, to have a late-night show, is very special and feels bigger than myself."
Singh grew up in the east-end Toronto suburb of Scarborough and rose to fame on YouTube starting in 2010 under the pseudonym Superwoman, offering sketches and sharp observations on everything from her heritage to dating and racism.
Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson has appeared on her channel and is now her friend and mentor. She said he was instrumental in helping her decide whether to take on her late-night show, which was announced in March.
"Something Dwayne said was, 'Don't let people convince you that there's a path that you have to follow to get to a certain place. If you want to do late-night and then also want to act and also want to do music, then you will do that and you will create that path for yourself,'" Singh said.
"Just as he did with football, wrestling, TV shows, movies. A part of me was like, 'Will I not be able to do anything else? Will people still let me act? What if people don't think I'm an actor now?' But he was like, 'No, you make the path and you make the roles.'"
Yes, that means Singh still plans to continue her YouTube career, just not with "as rigid of a schedule," she said.
In building her late-night show, she's aimed to hire a team that is "representative of the world" and use as much sketch comedy as possible.
And she wants to play up her Canadianness.
"When we were talking about this show and talking about the press release and all of this, I was like, 'Listen, the descriptor needs to be Canadian,'" Singh said, putting a loud emphasis on "Canadian."
"I want everyone to know I'm a proud Canadian, Torontonian, from Scarborough, and so I will make sure that comes through very much in my show."
Her dream guests?
"Beyonce, the Obamas, BTS, Blackpink, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato," she said. "I can go on for a really long time, but it's also a mix of not only people that I am a fan of but also the people who I believe deserve a platform.
"So good friends like Humble the Poet, Jay Shetty, people that are in my circle that have done amazing things but maybe have not been able to talk about it to the masses like that. I want to give them that opportunity as well. I make the rules now, I am the gatekeeper now, so all of them get on my show."
While Singh is paving a path, she noted she's only arrived at this point thanks to other trailblazing women before her.
"I'm part of a big step in the right direction," she said.
"I also applaud NBC for putting me in this position as well. It feels like a good movement is happening."