リリー・シンが語る 成功と平等への道 インド出身の挑戦


Women and girls are conditioned to believe success is “a seat at the table.” Creator, actress and author @LillySingh thinks we need to build a better table. In this hilarious, incisive talk, Singh traces the arc of her career from up-and-coming YouTuber to history-making late-night talk show host, offering four ways to build a more inclusive society where girls are encouraged and empowered to do great things.



タイトル A Seat at the Table Isn’t the Solution for Gender Equity
スピーカー リリー・シン
アップロード 2022/03/08

「テーブルに着くことはジェンダー平等の解決策ではない(A Seat at the Table Isn’t the Solution for Gender Equity)」の文字起こし

So when I was born on September 26, 1988, my grandparents and great-grandparents back in India didn’t find out for two weeks, which is a shame because, I mean, look how perfect I was.

And it’s not because the phone lines were down or because they weren’t available. It’s because there was a complication with my birth. And that complication was being assigned female at birth. You see, because my mom had been told that if she gave birth to a daughter, it wasn’t worth phoning home about. After all, she’d already given birth to my older sister, and this time everyone had high hopes that she would do right and have a son.

But she didn’t. She had me. And so there were no congratulations or Indian sweets sent our way. Just the reality that from the moment I came into this world, I was already a disappointment to so many people. It’s as if they had a time machine and already knew the trajectory of my entire career and life and decided that I had less to offer. And it sucked.

So why am I telling you this heavy story? I’m supposed to be a funny person. I have the nerve to come out here and hit you right in the feels. How dare I? I’m telling you this because although this is my lived experience, it’s also the reality that millions of girls face every day across every culture and in every country. And I’m telling you this because being born into this reality set me on a lifetime mission of trying to prove myself and just feel like I was enough.

What did I want to be when I grew up? I wanted to be treated equally. And I’m not alone in this mission. In fact, us girls, what we desperately want is a seat at the table. It’s what every motivational poster, Tumblr post, Instagram account you follow, business card tells us: Success is a seat at the table. And if they want to be extra spicy, they say, “If there is no seat, drag your own seat.” I’m sure you’ve heard this, right?

And so my marching orders were clear. Get a seat at this coveted table by any means necessary. And that’s been the driving force behind my entire career.

Now, in 2010, I noticed that no one on YouTube looked like me. There was no South Asian woman who’s very loud and uses her hands a lot, giving her take on the world. There was no me in front of a camera. I saw a seat up for grabs. So I got to work, and I started a channel under the name “Superwoman.” Yeah, because although I’m smart enough to do a TED Talk, I’m not smart enough to understand copyright.

I taught myself how to write, shoot, and edit my own content. And I worked really hard. When I finally got the hang of it, I committed to posting two comedy videos a week. And I found success. With a backward snapback on my head, I gave my take on relationships, pop culture, taboo subjects, and, most popularly, dressed up like my parents.

I can’t tell you how many times I forgot to wipe that chest hair off. A lot of times.

Now fast forward to 2015, and I’m on stage in India announcing my first world tour. As fate would have it, the day after this monumental milestone, I was set to fly to Punjab, India, to visit my grandfather for the first time in my adult life. And whoo, nothing could have prepared me for what was about to happen.

I vividly remember it. I was in the car driving to his house. He was standing outside. I nervously got out of the car, walked up to him. He walked up to me, looked me right in the eyes, and he raised his hand and decorated me with a flower garland: a gesture fit for people of importance. He then proceeded to welcome me into his home, my mom by my side, and proceed to show me all the newspaper clippings he had saved with my name and face on them. He said the words he was wrong. Words I had never heard a man say before to me. He said that I had done what no one else could have done, and I had made the family name proud. Me, Lilly, the baby born a girl.

That’s right. Now in that moment I truly felt like Superwoman. I did. You know, through my YouTube videos, I’ve amassed almost 15 million subscribers and three billion views. But more important than all of that, I managed to change one view. I challenged my grandfather’s entrenched gender beliefs. And for the first time in my life, I remember thinking in that moment, “Oh, I finally got a seat at the table …”

Hello, props.

“… alongside the men in the industry.” I felt like that. And encouraged by my grandfather’s approval, I became more confident in my influence. I remember thinking, “Oh, I’m going to talk at this table, I’m going to join the dinner conversation.”

You know, a lot of my male mentors make comments and posts about box office numbers and salaries and titles and those dollar dollar bills. So I thought, I’m going to chime in here. I learned very quickly that whenever I spoke of money, people got a little uncomfortable. Like the time I pointed out the gender gap in the Forbes list for online creators, a list I’d previously been on. I remember wanting to start a critical conversation because I saw this article and I was heartbroken. You know, the digital space had always been a place that I thought was without gatekeepers. And here it was looking just like old Hollywood.

Well, let me tell you, the internet was not interested. I don’t know how it’s possible, but it literally felt as if Twitter leaped through my screen and body slammed me onto my desk. The message was clear: you can be on this list, but don’t try to start any conversations about the inequality on this list. I have thousands and thousands of videos. One of my most disliked videos is why I’m not in a relationship. Yeah. A lot of the men at the table did not like me telling them why I didn’t need a boyfriend. I quickly learned that there’s an invisible gatekeeper called culture, and the table is smack dab in the middle of it.

Now, in 2019, I made history with my late-night show, “A Little Late with Lilly Singh.” Thank you, thank you.

There I was, Lilly, the baby born a brown girl, rubbing elbows, or at least time slots, with comedy royalty. And I got to give a huge shout out to NBC for boldly trying to break late-night tradition. I remember when the show came out, I remember all the articles because they looked practically identical. “Bisexual Woman of Color Gets Late-Night Show.” I almost legally changed my name to “bisexual woman of color” because that’s what people called me so often.

And you know, as strange as that sentiment was, I thought, OK, the silver lining is that we’ll finally get a different perspective in late-night. A little bit of melanin, a dash of queer, a different take on things. Let’s do this! And I remember thinking, “Now, oh, now I’ve been invited to the big table. And now things will be different.” So I took my seat.

Now, unfortunately, the budget wasn’t based on the importance or significance or historic nature of the show. It was based on the 1:30 am time-slot that we had. So to say the budget was small, the writing staff even smaller, and to do the first season, I had to shoot 96 episodes of late-night television in three months.

Audience: Whoo.

LS: Whoo is right. To put that into perspective, that is shooting two to three episodes a day versus the network standard of one a day, maybe two on Thursday. We did it all with a writing staff of about half a dozen writers versus the network standard that’s about double that. Words cannot explain to you how exhausting, emotionally and spiritually challenging that was. And I started to feel like, “Hm, I think this chair’s a little wobbly.”

Now, I think we can all agree that the beauty and magic of late-night is its timeliness. You know that no matter what’s happening in the world, you can turn on late-night television and hear all about it. But when you shoot 96 episodes in three months, you kind of lose that magic. I was the only show talking about hooking up, partying, cuddling, traveling, in front of a live audience during a literal global pandemic.

Now, still, I thought, if the budget doesn’t celebrate the historicness of the show, then the creative can. I can bring some much-needed spice to late-night. And sometimes I was successful. But other times, I would receive notes like, “Don’t be so loud.” “Don’t be so big.” “Don’t be so angry, smile more.” And my all-time favorite, “Don’t overindex on the South Asian stuff.” After all, everyone else at the table who’s been sitting there for years, people are used to them. I might be a little jarring to audiences.

Now, during season two of my show, I remember I went into overdrive. I found all the loopholes, I did all the necessary jobs to try to make the show more timely. And I was excited to. And I felt compelled to because for the first time in history, we had a woman, not to mention half South Asian woman, become vice president of the United States. Now we witnessed one of the greatest protests in human history with the farmer protests in India. And I was excited to finally give my take on these things.

But my take was almost never included in topical media news coverage round-ups. You know, we still got the same voices, the same perspectives, even though someone and something different was literally in the next time slot. I kept trying to pull up my seat. I kept trying to join the dinner conversation. I kept trying to ask for a more supportive seat. But every time I would be told that I should be grateful to have a seat in the first place. After all, everyone else that looks like me is still waiting outside the restaurant in the cold.

You know, the strange thing about having a wobbly seat is that you spend so much time trying to keep it upright that you can never bring your full self to the table. So now, why am I telling you all this? Well, because my therapist costs 200 dollars an hour and this is way cheaper.

But also because I just experienced one of the most notorious boys’ clubs ever in late-night television. And I’m here to offer solutions. I don’t always follow up a venting session with solutions, but when I do, it’s a TED Talk.

That’s right.

You see, my goal was always a seat at the table. It’s what women are conditioned to believe success is. And when the chair doesn’t fit, when it doesn’t reach the table, when it’s wobbly, when it’s full of splinters, we don’t have the luxury of fixing it or finding another one. But we try anyways. We take on that responsibility, and we shoulder that burden.

Now, I’ve been fortunate enough to sit at a few seats, at a few different tables. And what I’ve learned is, when you get the seat, trying to fix the seat won’t fix the problem. Why? Because the table was never built for us in the first place. The solution? Build better tables.

So, allow me to be your very own IKEA manual. I would like to present to you a set of guidelines I very eloquently call: “How to Build a Table that Doesn’t Suck.”

I’ve been told I’m very literal.

Now, right off the bat, let me tell you, this assembly is going to take more than one person or group of people. It’s going to take everyone. Are you ready? Should we dive in? Let’s do it.

Up first, don’t weaponize gratitude. Now, don’t get me wrong, gratitude is a great word. It’s nice, it’s fluffy, a solid 11 points in Scrabble. However, let’s be clear. Although gratitude feels warm and fuzzy, it’s not a form of currency. Women are assigned 10 percent more work and spend more time on unrewarded, unrecognized and non-promotable tasks. Basically, what this means is all the things men don’t want to do are being handed to women, and a lot of those things largely include things that advance inclusivity, equity, and diversity in the workplace.

So hear me when I say, a woman shouldn’t be grateful to sit at a table. She should be paid to sit at a table. Especially ones she largely helped build. And a woman’s seat shouldn’t be threatened if she doesn’t seem “grateful” enough. In other words, corporations, this step involves a woman doing a job and being paid in money, opportunity, and promotion, not just gratitude. And women — yeah, go ahead, live it up, live your life.

And women, a moment of real talk, trust me, I’ve been there and I know it’s so tough, but we have to understand and remember that being grateful and being treated fairly are not mutually exclusive. I can be grateful but still know exactly what I deserve. And that’s the way to do it.

Up next, invest in potential. When investing in women, don’t invest in the 1:30 am time slot. Invest in empowering something different. Invest in a new voice. Give them the support they actually need. Cultural change takes time and money. Heck, it took my grandfather 25 years to see that I was worthy of more.

So a true investment is one that values potential over proof. Because so often that proof doesn’t exist for women. Not because we aren’t qualified, but because we haven’t been given the opportunity. In other words, if you’re trying to be inclusive, don’t give someone new a seat made of straw until they prove they deserve a better one. Don’t hold something called a “prove it again” bias, which requires less privileged people to constantly keep proving themselves, even though white men tend to get by on just their potential. Give them a seat that they can thrive in, that they can do the job you hired them to do in. Allow them to contribute to the table, and they will make it better.

Up next, this is my favorite one. My favorite one, it’s quite common sense, actually. Make space for us. You know, for every three men at a table, there’s only one place setting for a woman. People are so used to more men showing up that they plan for it. There’s an extra seat in the corner, there’s a steak under the heat lamp. When more men show up, the table gets longer. But when that extra RSVP is a woman, more often than not she’s encouraged to compete against the only other woman that was invited to the table. Instead, we need to build multiple seats for multiple women, not just one or two, so that women are not sitting on top of each other’s laps, fighting for one meal.

We already know that more diverse teams perform better. A recent study shows that corporations that have more gender diversity on their executive teams were 25 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability. And more racially diverse companies had 36 percent more profit. So really, no matter how you look at it, it’s time to build longer tables and more seats.

And I want to say something, and I want to admit something, I want to be vulnerable for a second. Because I’ve fallen victim to this so many times, and women, let me know if you’ve experienced this. We have to get rid of the scarcity mindset and champion each other, you know, because I’ve learned what’s the better win? Me sitting at a table or us sitting at a table? Don’t be convinced to fight for one spot. Instead, fight for multiple spots.

And let me lead by example right now and say, I know there are many other women that are going to come on this stage, and I hope they all nail it, and I will be cheering you all on because we can all win. And I’m going to be your biggest cheerleader when you’re up here.

Last, it’s time to upgrade the table talk. Now, I believe stories make the world go around. You thought it had something to do with the solar system? Joke’s on you, it’s stories.

Stories are how we understand ourselves, how we understand others and how we understand the world. And arguably the most important stories are those we see in the media. Because we’ve seen time and time that they control the narrative and impact culture. Now, when it comes to genre, you can argue that certain genres have certain target demographics.

When it comes to world news, the target demographic is the world, and we know half of the world is female. Yet women and girls make up only a quarter of the people interviewed or that the news is even about in the first place. Instead, when it comes to issues that impact women, we not only need to be included in the coverage, we need to be driving those stories and dimensionalizing our own experience. Inviting everyone in on the table talk isn’t just a nice gesture. It makes for better, more productive, smarter conversation with more than one point of view. And that’s how you get better.

So this all sounds like a lot of work. And it is. But I’m going to tell you why it’s necessary and worth it. To be honest, this is about so much more than just women in the workplace. In fact, I could probably come up with many more guidelines across many other industries. This is about creating a world where half of the population can thrive. You see, because the work we do today can create a world where future generations of girls can have equitable access and opportunity.

And here’s the best part. Are you ready for it? Everyone listening today, all the men, the women, everyone in between, the big companies, the small ones, the media outlets, the people that snuck into the back, all of you, you can help create this future. A future where we have longer tables and more seats that actually work instead of fighting for a seat at the old ones that don’t. A future where everyone is seated at the table equally.

And a future where being assigned female at birth is not a disappointment or a disadvantage, because girls are encouraged, empowered, and expected to do great things. And I can’t wait to make that a reality.

Thank you so much.

「テーブルに着くことはジェンダー平等の解決策ではない(A Seat at the Table Isn’t the Solution for Gender Equity)」の和訳






2019年、私はレイトショー「A Little Late with Lilly Singh」で歴史を作りました。番組が始まったとき、「有色人種のバイセクシュアル女性がレイトショーを持つ」と多くの記事に書かれました。私は異なる視点を提供できることに期待していました。