Tiffany Sara Cornilia Haddish (born December 3, 1979) is an American actress, comedian, and author. After guest-starring on several television series, she gained prominence for her role as Nekeisha Williams on the NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show. Her breakthrough came in 2017 when she starred in the comedy film Girls Trip, receiving critical acclaim for her performance as Dina. That year, she won a Primetime Emmy Award for her work as a host on a Saturday Night Live episode, and published a memoir, The Last Black Unicorn. She stars in the TBS series The Last O.G., and executive produces and voices Tuca in the Netflix/Adult Swim animated series Tuca & Bertie.
Early life and education
Haddish was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, California. Her father, Tsihaye Reda Haddish, was a refugee from Eritrea, and was from an Ethiopian-Jewish family. Her mother, Leola, was an African American small business owner. After Haddish's father left when she was three years old, her mother remarried and had Haddish's two half-sisters and two half-brothers.
In 1988, while her family was living in Colton, California, Haddish's mother Leola suffered severe brain damage in a car accident. It was believed to cause Leola's schizophrenia; Haddish said her mother became quick-tempered, abusive and violent. Haddish, then nine years old and the oldest of five siblings, became the family's primary caregiver. It was around this time that Haddish discovered her gift for making people laugh. She said, "If I could make [Leola] laugh and turn her anger into some joy, I was less likely to get beat. Same thing in school: If I could make the kids laugh, they'd help me with my homework and protect me from other bullies."
According to Haddish, her stepfather later told her he had tampered with the brakes on her mother's car, intending the wreck to kill Haddish, her siblings, and her mother so he could collect on their life insurance policies. However, the children chose to stay home that day, and the accident was not fatal for her mother.
When Haddish was 12, she and her siblings were put into foster care and temporarily separated from one another. While there, she used comedy to cope with being with unfamiliar people. When she was 15, she and her siblings were reunited under their grandmother's care.
She attended George Ellery Hale Middle School in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles and graduated from El Camino Real High School, also in Woodland Hills, where she was the school mascot. She said she could not read very well until high school, but improved when she received tutoring from a teacher. She also got into a lot of trouble at school, despite her award-winning participation in drama competitions presenting Shakespearean monologues. In 2018, Haddish revealed that she had been raped at age 17 by a police cadet, which she says led to her aggressiveness in avoiding unwanted advances from men.
In 1997, after her social worker gave her an ultimatum to attend either psychiatric therapy or the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp, the 17-year-old Haddish opted for comedy as an outlet for her pain. She says that the mentorship from many notable comedians—including Richard Pryor, Dane Cook, Charles Fleischer and the Wayans brothers—helped her discover a passion for comedy that "literally saved her life." She incorporates her life experiences in her sets, finding that it functions as a "safe space" for her.
Haddish was accepted to New York University, but the tuition and her aversion to debt kept her from attending. She later attended Santa Monica College. Prior to her onscreen success, she held a number of jobs, including customer service for Air New Zealand at Los Angeles International Airport and Alaska Airlines. She said she lived in her car during her twenties, in her early days of comedy.
Haddish's first break was a spot on the comedy competition Bill Bellamy's Who's Got Jokes? She has appeared on such shows as Chelsea Lately, That's So Raven, My Name Is Earl, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Underground, Nick Cannon's Short Circuitz, @midnight, Just Jordan, In the Motherhood, Def Comedy Jam, Reality Bites Back and New Girl, and has starred in movies including Meet the Spartans and Janky Promoters.
In 2013, she had a recurring role on Real Husbands of Hollywood. In 2014, she was cast in the Oprah Winfrey Network drama series If Loving You Is Wrong. She left after the first season for a regular role on the NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show, where she starred as Nekeisha, the semi-estranged wife of Bobby Carmichael (Lil Rel Howery) for three seasons.
In 2017, Haddish starred alongside Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah in the comedy film Girls Trip. It received widely positive reviews from critics, attaining an approval rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and a "generally favorable reviews" score of 71 out of 100 from Metacritic. Haddish was acclaimed for her performance as the loud happy-go-lucky Dina, with several critics likening her breakthrough to that of Melissa McCarthy. Katie Walsh of the Chicago Tribune proclaimed that "this is Haddish's movie, and will make her a star. It's clear from the moment she hits the screen..." Further, Girls Trip grossed over $140 million worldwide against its production budget of $20 million to become the highest-grossing comedy film of 2017.
In August 2017, Haddish's stand-up comedy special Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood premiered on Showtime. Reviewing the special for Vox, Caroline Framke stated, "Haddish is just really damn funny, and deserves a recommendation wherever we can give it to her... [She] unleashes hilarious, filthy, and even moving anecdotes to tell the story of her life to this point, without anything holding her back, at long last." Haddish also co-hosted the BET game show Face Value with Deon Cole.
Haddish hosted the November 11, 2017 episode of Saturday Night Live, making her the first African-American female stand-up comedian to host the show; it won her the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. Her memoir, The Last Black Unicorn (written with Tucker Max) was released in December 2017 by Simon & Schuster and debuted at #15 on The New York Times best-seller list.
As of 2018, Haddish stars opposite Tracy Morgan in the TBS sitcom The Last O.G., her first lead in a sitcom. Her 2018 film roles include a supporting part in Uncle Drew, and a lead role, opposite Kevin Hart, in the comedy Night School, reuniting with Girls Trip director Malcolm D. Lee. In parallel, she stars in the Tyler Perry movie Nobody's Fool with Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, Mehcad Brooks, Amber Riley and Whoopi Goldberg. The film received mixed reviews from critics and has grossed over $33 million worldwide. In 2018, Haddish signed a first-look deal with HBO and was named one of the 100 most influential people in world by Time magazine.
In 2019, Haddish voiced Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part; Daisy in The Secret Life of Pets 2; and Tuca on the Netflix animated sitcom Tuca & Bertie, which premiered in May. Also that year, ABC revived Kids Say the Darndest Things with Haddish as host and producer. It premiered on October 6 as part of a three-hour family-oriented block of programming.
In August 2019, Netflix premiered her new comedy special, Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready. In each episode, Haddish introduced one of her favorite stand-up comedians in order to give them mainstream exposure. The series included stand-up sets from Chaunté Wayans, April Macie, Tracey Ashley, Aida Rodriguez, Flame Monroe and Marlo Williams.
Haddish was asked to host the 2021 Grammy Awards pre-telecast premiere ceremony, but turned down the request after the Recording Academy said she had to pay her own way. She explained that the Academy would not cover her hair, makeup or wardrobe for the three-hour-long event, commenting: "All of that would have to come out of my pocket, [...] I don't know if this might mean I might not get nominated ever again, but I think it's disrespectful. [...] It's like a guy asking you on a date but telling you that you have to pay for it."
When Haddish was nine years old, her mother was diagnosed with mental illness after a car accident and Haddish had to go into foster care. At one point early in life, she was hospitalized with toxic shock syndrome. After graduating from high school, Haddish was homeless, living in her car for a period of time.
Haddish partnered with Living Advantage, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the welfare of foster youth, for her Suitcase Drive for Foster Youth, where she collected suitcases in which foster youth can keep their belongings. She volunteers at the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp.
Haddish married William Stewart in 2008. He helped Haddish locate her once-estranged father who walked her down the aisle at their first wedding, which she described as "one of the happiest days of my life." She filed for divorce in Los Angeles County, California in 2011 and got finalized in 2013. She is in a relationship with rapper Common.
Haddish became a naturalized citizen of Eritrea on May 22, 2019 while taking part in festivities there commemorating the 28th anniversary of Eritrean independence from Ethiopia. She first visited the country in 2018 to bury her Eritrean-born Ethiopian-Jewish father who came to the U.S. as a refugee, and to connect with her relatives.
In 2017, Haddish revealed she had a brief experience in Scientology.
Awards and nominations
The BET Awards were established in 2001 by the Black Entertainment Television network to celebrate African-Americans and other minorities in music, acting, sports, and other fields of entertainment over the past year.
Black Reel Awards
The Black Reel Awards is an annual American awards ceremony hosted by the Foundation for the Augmentation of African-Americans in Film (FAAAF) to recognize excellence in African-American, as well as those of African diaspora's cinematic achievements in the around the world film industry as assessed by the Academy's voting membership.
Primetime Emmy Awards
Works and publications
- Haddish, Tiffany (December 2017). The Last Black Unicorn. New York: Gallery Books. ISBN 978-1-501-18182-5. OCLC 983640770.