Who Is Tiffany Haddish?
Tiffany Haddish is an African American comedian and actress who was seen for years in supporting roles in TV shows and movies until she appeared as part of the ensemble cast of Girls Trip in 2017 and earned critical acclaim, including a prestigious award from the New York Film Critics Circle and an Emmy Award in 2018.
Early Life & Father
Tiffany Sarac Haddish was born on Dec. 3, 1979, in Los Angeles. Her father was from Eritrea, Africa, descended from Ethiopian Jews. Haddish’s mother is African American. Her father left the household when Haddish was very small and she did not see him again until she was an adult.
Haddish has two half-sisters and two half-brothers, the result of her mother getting remarried. When Haddish was 13, her mother was in a car accident and sustained a brain injury. After the accident, her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was no longer able to care for Haddish and her siblings. The children went into foster care and were eventually raised by their grandmother.
How She Found Comedy In Tragedy
Haddish says her mother’s accident and her subsequent erratic behavior led Haddish to pursue comedy. She has said in interviews that she learned that if she could make her mother laugh, then her mother was less likely to hit her.
“You know, when you have a brain injury it’s very hard, and especially if before the injury you were a very intellectual, intelligent person …and then you can’t pull your words anymore and you get frustrated. And she would hit and stuff, and … if I could make her laugh then I probably [wouldn’t] get hit,” Haddish told National Public Radio in 2017.
Haddish also says she became interested in show business when she watched The Arsenio Hall Show when she was a child.
Success did not come overnight for Haddish. She struggled as a young comic trying to get a foothold in the stand-up comedy business in L.A. At one point in her life, she was homeless and living in her car, which she would park in Beverly Hills.
She credits Kevin Hart, whom she befriended at L.A.’s Laugh Factory comedy club, with getting her off the street by loaning her $300 to get a motel room. In the years since then, she has offered repeatedly to pay him back, but he has refused to accept the money.
Her first big break in comedy was landing a spot in Bill Bellamy's Who's Got Jokes? and she later appeared on sketch comedies such as Daman Wayans' The Underground, Nick Cannon's Short Circuitz and Russell Simmons' series Def Comedy Jam.
Movies & TV Shows
Haddish was seen in a handful of movies before Girls Trip, including Meet the Spartans (2008), Keanu (2016) and others.
But television is where Haddish first got her start. Early appearances included small roles on My Name Is Earl, That’s So Raven and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
She went on to recurring roles in the reality-TV spoof Real Husbands of Hollywood (on which Hart was an executive producer and also star), Tyler Perry’s If Loving You Is Wrong and The Carmichael Show.
‘Girls Trip’ & Memoir
Haddish's star turn came in 2017 when she was cast in Girls Trip, a buddy comedy about four female friends who take a road trip to New Orleans to attend a music festival. Haddish’s co-stars were Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Regina Hall.
In the wake of the film, 2017 became a watershed year for Haddish. By December, she had published a memoir called The Last Black Unicorn. The title came from a painful portion of her childhood in which a conspicuous, tenacious wart on her forehead led to her being bullied at school and earned her the nickname of Unicorn.
In her memoir and elsewhere, Haddish often credits the advice she received from self-help videos and books as one of the keys to her success. “You gotta take care of you before you can take care of anybody else,” Haddish said in one interview, talking about what she has learned from others. “And I never really understood that concept ’til I got a little older and realized, you know, how can I give any kind of love or any kind of joy, if I don’t have any? So I started reading books about it, watching YouTube videos. I feel like YouTube videos are everything in my life. YouTube videos have changed my whole existence.”
New Projects: Co-starring with Tracy Morgan
Haddish also won a co-starring role in The Last O.G., a new TV comedy series starring Tracy Morgan that premiered in the spring of 2018.
Riding on her new wave of celebrity, Haddish was tapped to host the MTV Movie & TV Awards in June 2018. In August, it was announced that the comedian had agreed to her own hour-long stand-up special. In September 2018 the actress teamed up with Kevin Hart to star in the comedy Night School.
Making History on ‘Saturday Night Live’ & Emmy Win
In addition to critical praise and a prestigious award following the Girls Trip release, Haddish was invited to guest-host Saturday Night Live in November 2017, becoming the first African American female comedian to ever guest-host the show in its 43-year history. The following year she won her first Emmy for her participation, under the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series category.
Haddish married and divorced William Stewart twice. In her memoir, The Last Black Unicorn, she cited Stewart was physically abusive, which resulted in her having a miscarriage. He has subsequently denied her claims, but court documents revealed Haddish had filed a restraining order against him in the past, reporting incidents in 2010 and 2011, the latter resulting in a black eye and bruises all over her body.
In August 2020, Haddish confirmed that she's dating rapper and actor Common.
Trip to Africa
In January 2018, Haddish traveled to Eritrea for the first time in her life. Her trip’s mission was, in part, to see to the burial of her father’s remains in his native country. He had been living in Philadelphia when the two were briefly reunited.
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