Her stage is set. Her dancers are in position. Thousands of teenagers are chanting her name. And Lilly Singh is getting amped up for her onstage debut.
“The only thing people remember is how you make them feel,” she declares in an opening voiceover, “And I’m nervous that if I go out there and I don’t believe what I’m saying, that I won’t make people feel any type of way.”
A Trip To Unicorn Island is Lilly “IISuperwomanII” Singh’s offering for the original programming of controversial new service YouTube Red. Produced by social media-based outfit Astronauts Wanted, the 80-minute documentary follows Lilly as she, after five years of monumental success with her YouTube channel, makes the decision to bring her larger-than-life personality and energy to the world’s stages.
Not to be confused with the actual tour of the same name, this is an almost entirely behind-the-scenes look at the blood, sweat, tears and glitter that went into Lilly’s admittedly most ambitious project yet. Starting with the infectious optimism of the planning stages, running headlong into the jarring reality of deadlines and forgotten tasks, and powering through the backstage pressures of actual touring, Unicorn Island follows a very tried-and-true format of the tour documentary. Features such as interviews with Lilly’s parents (the real ones, not her alternative personas) or footage of her falling asleep in front of a laptop will most likely invoke déjà vu within anyone who has watched a tour diary before.
But what probably separates Lilly’s doc from the rest probably lies in the soundbites from her fans, all attending legs of the tour around the world. Instead of the usual clips of young girls fawning over a YouTuber without any substantial reason other than “they’re just amazing”, IISuperwomanII fans all share a similar thread of thought: that the star makes them feel better about themselves than anyone else has before.
“She got me out of my silence,” explains one young yet eloquent fan. “She got me wanting to do things again, to want to make something of my life again, to be more optimistic, to be more hopeful.”
This is without a doubt the legacy of “Unicorn Island”: a concept that Lilly explains to be “that state I reach when I decide ‘everything’s gonna be okay, and I’m happy, because life is great’.” On the tour, “Unicorn Island” takes the form of a brightly coloured stage, with eight dancers (absolutely not six) dressed as flight attendants, all backing up Lilly, who spreads the good word to sold-out theatres (and one pub) around the world.
It’s unfortunate that many will be put off by the paywall of YouTube Red to give this documentary a chance; and if this is your first foray into the world of Lilly Singh, you would be forgiven in assuming this is just another tour diary from the surface. But as we found ourselves learning as we watched, all it takes is to question your own concept of “Unicorn Island” to understand just what it is about her almost unwavering positivity that resonates with her 7 million subscribers; that not even the inevitable tensions of an almost self-funded world tour can break her spirit. That’s a true Unicorn right there.
A Trip To Unicorn Island is available now on YouTube Red or for singular purchase. You can check out a taster of the first few minutes of the documentary below.