From amassing hundreds of millions of YouTube views, to being a bestselling author, to even being awarded an MBE by the Queen, Humza Arshad is truly a force to be reckoned with.
The South London native first found viral fame with his YouTube comedy series titled ‘Diary of a Villain‘, which follows the hilarious ups and downs of a young British-Pakistani boy trying to be tough, and has since become one of Britain’s most famous South Asian faces.
Now, Humza has turned his hit YouTube series into a line of children’s books that follow the younger version of his character as he battles killer aunts, time-traveling teachers, and radioactive samosas (yes, really !).
His next release, titled “Little Badman and the Rise of the Punjabi Zombies”, aims to continue to portray young Pakistani children in literature and teach them important life lessons through reading.
Indy100 sat down with Humza to find out more about his career highlights, his book series and what it’s like to be one of the UK’s most successful South Asian YouTubers and comedians.
Humza rose to fame on YouTube and has since become one of the UK’s most famous South Asians in entertainment.Humza Arshad
On what first inspired him to start his YouTube channel, Humza said it was a somewhat sad story. “I always wanted to be an actor and an artist,” he said, “but back then diversity wasn’t really a thing and the dream I had of being in movies or doing television seemed really exaggerated to me. In a strange way, I lived my dream in my room.
He was hoping to get scouted by a director or casting agent, but didn’t expect his debut video ‘Diary of a Badman’ – which now has over 5.9 million views – to go viral and change his life. .
Humza shared when he first felt the success of his series. “I remember being asked to be part of a music video after my first uploads and being like ‘this is the best thing ever, I’m practically Tom Cruise’.”
“Everyone was so nice to me and I was in a bubble I had never been in before,” he said. “Then I remember leaving the set and five or six boys running towards me to take pictures. When they left, that was when I knew things had changed. Then when I started getting free Nandos Chicken I knew I had made it.
Since then, Humza has enjoyed viral fame, TV appearances and received his MBE.
“With the MBE, I thought they were wrong!” he’s laughing. “One day they sent me a letter saying I was chosen by the Queen and it was so surreal. I thought ‘someone messed up here’ but I’m just gonna take it and give it back to them once they realize.
“These accomplishments are always a surprise but at the same time, it’s always what I wanted to do,” he continued. “When I was young I knew I wanted to do what I love so Alhumdullilah (all praise be to God) I’m very lucky and blessed to do what I love.”
On some of the highlights of his career so far, Humza said, “The MBE is definitely up there and I thought that was the tipping point for my parents to admit they were proud of me. But, my dad texted me two days later saying “well done”, which is the gold bullion.
He also described his excitement about meeting one of his heroes, The Rock, and what it means to be recognized for his accomplishments. He said: “The MBE was quite special, especially coming from where I come from, being South Asian and Muslim and being recognized for my work. The next step is OBE!
As one of the UK’s most famous South Asian personalities in the entertainment world, Humza said it was a big responsibility. He said: “I’m not perfect, but being a role model for others who might look up to me is something I have to consider.”
On what performance means to him, he said, “It means everything. Looking at myself and how I started ‘Diary of a Badman’, I had no faith that I could live my dream and looking back, it’s really sad.
“Knowing that other people have felt this, but can now look up to me and other South Asian comedians, actors and entertainers – I’m lucky to have been one of the first to open that door and it’s an honor and a sense of pride for me.”
About becoming an author, Humza described how he didn’t read often because he didn’t feel represented in children’s literature growing up. He said: “I would look at the bookshelves and never see any characters that related to me, which is probably why I never had the urge to start reading.
“Now I realize that a lot of kids – especially in the South Asian community – have something they can relate to through my books. They can read about samosas and see characters like their parents, so it’s good to have this representation because even if we are in the right direction, we can still do more and do better.
The “Little Badman” book series follows the adventures of the younger version of his “Diary of a Badman” character. “It’s very comedic and is about him and his friends in these wacky adventures, but also gives readers some lessons to learn.”
What he hopes kids (or adults) take away from the book, Humza wants them to laugh and learn. He said: “For example, we talk about the partition of India and Pakistan, the British empire and the fact that many Punjabis ended up migrating to the UK, which never bothered me. been taught in school.”
He would like children, especially of South Asian origin, to better understand their history and their families through reading and to be interested in the subject for the future.
Regarding the advice he would give to others wanting to get into acting, acting or YouTube, Humza said, “Consistency is important. Go ahead and if you fall, get up and continue to your destination.
“If you’re passionate about something, use that as motivation because it will make you work harder because you love it,” he continued. “Be you too – make something of yourself, don’t copy others and be yourself because there is only one you. Also be confident in your abilities.
In the future, Hamza hopes to release another “Little Badman” book and move away from YouTube and into more mainstream entertainment. “I’m going to be doing more TV and film stuff and I have a couple projects coming up that I can’t say too much about but are very exciting,” he said.
“I would never completely leave YouTube, even though I only upload once a year. I’m working on a few more episodes of my ‘Badman’ series, which is a bit like Top Boy but with less budget!
He said: “I did the hardest part of building my brand and getting through the door, so now I’m doing more of what I love because I love performing and entertaining.”
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