Lilly Singh doesn’t subscribe to the idea that you have to be uncomfortable to be fashionable. So when it came time for her talk-show host debut with “A Little Late with Lilly Singh” on NBC in 2019, she took matters into her own hands.
“When I moved to L.A. and when I was growing in the industry, I had a few stylists that definitely didn’t care if I was uncomfortable, which, for a couple of years, I thought was necessary to succeed in this business,” she told FN. “I would do red carpets and they would put me in super-tight dresses and very uncomfortable heels. I noticed that when I was dressed like that I was just stiff in interviews and I would never truly be myself. I was always trying to be this very put-together [version].”
Fast-forward to the launch of her own show and it was Singh who dictated what she would be wearing.
If you’ve tuned in to the program, which is currently in its second season, you’ll see that Singh is shaking things up. Not only is she the first person of Indian and South Asian descent to host a major network late-night talk show, but she’s doing so in sneakers, colorful suits and streetwear. It’s a refreshing take compared with the looks we’re used to getting from late-night mainstays Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and James Corden.
“It was my decision to go the route of the power suit,” she said. “I love feeling like a boss, but I hate heels, so I wanted to combine those two worlds where I can rock sneakers and suits.”
Now that the virtual world is the new normal, the comedian is again redefining what a late-night host should look like. “Today, it’s like matching sweatsuits, track suits, oversized streetwear and always sneakers,” said Singh, citing her go-to brands as Adidas and NorBlack NorWhite. (She’s also open to do a sneaker collaboration of her own in the future.)
While fashion may seem frivolous to some, it is often an expression of personal identity. And for Singh, it has certainly been a medium to convey her authenticity — whether it be dressing in traditional Indian garb or in clothing that may be considered more masculine.
“It never took me a while to embrace the Indian side of me. What took a while to embrace was the queer side,” explained Singh, who openly identifies as bisexual. “I believe in wearing whatever expresses who you are, regardless of whatever norms have been set. Previously, I would have felt compelled to say, ‘Look, I’m still wearing heels,’ and maybe that’s why I tried to wear heels for so long, to prove that I could still be feminine. Then I was just like, ‘Why? Why do I have to prove anything?’
This truthfulness that Singh exudes is something her 9.6 million Instagram followers have appreciated long before her talk show. (It was on YouTube that she launched her career in 2010 and where she currently has 14.9 million subscribers.)
Plus, Singh’s ability to look inward and be transparent is another reason fans find the comedian so inspiring.
Recently, during an appearance on “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” she opened up about the challenges and pressures she faced during Season 1 of “A Little Late,” saying that she didn’t feel completely herself because of it. However, she’s leaving that behind in Season 2.
“What I had to change was my authenticity. To have to monitor yourself every hour is exhausting. Now, I talk about what’s actually on my mind, what I actually believe. I let myself be weird and when I make mistakes, I embrace them. It’s just being more human and having more fun,” she said.
Fearlessness is the quality she most admires in other women as well, including Meena Harris and Elsa Majimbo.
Majimbo is an Internet star who became famous during quarantine for her viral Instagram videos. Now, she’s making the move from Kenya to Los Angeles. “I’m just in awe of her courage to chase her dreams,” said Singh. “And then Meena, I just love the degree to which she is outspoken, especially with her being a woman of color. She doesn’t give two fs. She will stand up for what she believes and she will fight for people who don’t have a voice.”