Loud, hilarious and ‘real’, that’s the Tiffany Haddish that most of us fell in love with as one of the dream cast members in last summer’s box office smash, Girls Trip. But, we ought to know by now, that the best comedians often have a tortured and traumatic past, and Haddish, sadly, has one of the most dysfunctional stories that we have heard in a long while.
Currently promoting her autobiography, The Last Unicorn, Haddish was recently interviewed in The Guardian, where she talked about some of the more challenging periods of her life. She became homeless at just 16. Speaking about the experience to The Guardian, she said: “I was homeless for three months but there were three different times. You know how they say life is full of lessons, and each time you experience something you’re supposed to learn from it, and if you don’t it happens again? Well, it took three times for me and every single time it was about three months of me living in my car.”
Homeless at such a young age, where were her parents? Well, when she was nine, her mother was involved in a car crash that left her unable to talk, walk or eat. In her book, Haddish claims that her stepfather tried to kill her family to claim the insurance money! Her mother never really recovered and ended up becoming schizophrenic and was eventually sent to a mental health facility, and the young Haddish was banished to foster homes where she claims to have suffered abuse and assault.
Her experiences became the material for her emerging stand-up routines, a career she started after discovering her talent for making people laugh at a very young age. It was also a coping mechanism for a series of deeply traumatic experiences, which carried on through to early adulthood. Her break finally came in the shape of popular comedian and actor, Kevin Hart, who urged her to “take her future more seriously”, and gave her some money which allowed her to move out of her car, where she’d been living in at the time. She said: “I learned that I needed to be more honest than I was, more truthful with my comedy,” she says. “I’m really grateful God made Kevin.”
That intervention appeared to be the turning that she needed. Today, her career couldn’t be in better shape. Her sassy character in the $100m-grossing Girls Trip arguably had the best lines in the movie, highlights which included her shenanigans with grapefruit and bananas! She confirms that the character was 85% pure Haddish.
She has a co-starring role in Kevin Hart’s next movie, Night School (which will also feature Yvonne Orji); has made a number of high profile appearances on late night talk shows like Jimmy Kimmel and is scheduled to host an upcoming Saturday Night Live. She’s also part of a group of cool, rising black stars, who starred in a Friends-themed parody in the new Jay-Z video called Moonlight, alongside Issa Rae, Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson.
There is no doubt that Haddish’s star is on the rise and after the journey she has been through to get where she is, no one deserves it more. It’s great to see that she is taking her new-found success in her stride. She credits where she grew up as contributing to this. Speaking about her South Central (Los Angeles) roots, she said: “I’ve been there all my life. In most areas of LA, people already knew me. The world had no clue. It’s just on a different level. It’s more, strangers saying: ‘I love you, you’re my best friend in my head.’ I’m like: ‘Boo, I’m my best friend, too.’”
Image credit: Courtesy of Michele K. Short/Universal Studios.