Tiffany Haddish has become one of the biggest names in comedy in recent years, and for good reason. Her work in stand-up and in the film industry has been prolific. From a past of trauma Tiffany has made herself one of Hollywood's biggest stars and has used her platform to give back to children and empower them when society refuses to. So how did this rise come to be?
Tiffany was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, where she faced numerous hardships. Her father left the home when she was 3 years old, and her mother, following brain damage caused by a car accident, became abusive to her. Tiffany was in and out of foster homes for years but made her way to a comedy camp hosted by Jaime Masada at the Laugh Factory, one of the most famous comedy clubs in America. Jaime recognized her potential at 15 years old and helped her tune her skills as a comic as she began to build her base. While at the comedy camp, she received advice from one of the most beloved comedians of all time, Richard Pryor.
In a piece from the New Yorker, Tiffany discussed how he criticized her stand-up set for "not being fun enough." As Tiffany reported him saying,
"Look, people don’t come to comedy shows because they want to hear about your problems, or about politics, or what’s going on in the world, or celebrities. They don’t care. They come to comedy shows to have fun. So when you’re onstage, you need to be having fun. If you’re having fun, they’re having fun. If you not having fun, they looking at you like ‘what the hell did I spend my money on?’ So you need to have fun.”
Though she was mentored by one of the greats, her livelihood was still not easy. As Tiffany herself has been vocal about, there were times when she had to live in her car, caught between living situations, all while continuing to hustle and use her talent. There was a point when Kevin Hart, another young comedian, had given her $300 to spend finding a place and staying afloat.
In 2006 she made her first TV appearance on the comedy competition series Who's Got Jokes? Hosted by Bill Bellamy. Two years later, she performed on the legendary program, Def Comedy Jam. But Tiffany's breakthrough would come in 2017 when she starred in Girls Trip alongside Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett-Smith. The film was the highest-grossing comedy of 2017, as it earned approximately $140 Million at the box office, with a budget of $20 Million. Unfortunately, Haddish claims she only earned about $80,000 from doing the movie, ridiculous considering how much money the film ended up making. Though she was a movie star, she wasn't being paid like one.
2018 would bring more blessings her way, as she hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live, found more film work in movies like Uncle Drew and The Oath, starred in TBS' comedy series The Last O.G. with Tracy Morgan, and starred alongside Kevin Hart in Night School, which also became the highest-grossing comedy of the year, breaking $100M at the box office. During filming, Tiffany even tried to pay Kevin back the $300 she borrowed years ago, and he refused to accept it, going so far as to stuff the money into her wig cap before they started shooting one day.
Also, in 2018, Tiffany signed a deal with Netflix for $800,000 for a comedy special, but many questioned why Tiffany's deal was significantly lower considering Netflix's deals with Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, Chris earning $40M for two specials, and Chappelle earning $60M for four comedy specials. Why Netflix believes the woman who starred in back-to-back box office topping films doesn't deserve a higher cut is beyond this writer. Nevertheless, Tiffany's Netflix special Black Mitzvah went on to win the 2021 Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
Tiffany's more recent ventures include starring in the reboot of The Proud Family, the improv/reality comedy movie Bad Trip, and founding a charitable org called the She Ready Foundation, whose mission statement reads:
"...foster children deserve an equal opportunity for a normal childhood. Our founder, Tiffany Haddish, has made it her goal to empower, support and encourage children living in the foster care system. She knows all too well what it’s like to move from home to home in the middle of the night with all her belongings packed in garbage bags and feel like the world has forgotten about her. We are the voice of foster children suffering in silence."
The She Ready Foundation offers internships for foster youth to obtain jobs in the film industry.
So not only is it great to see Tiffany thriving and succeeding in an industry and world that rejects her but to open doors for children in her position is even more heartwarming.
And even more recently, Girls Trip 2 was recently greenlit, as confirmed by producer Will Packer, and the whole "Flossy Posse" is slated to return, as they spoke about brainstorming ideas for the sequel on Zoom during the pandemic.
Tiffany Haddish's story is one of perseverance, principle, and pure talent, in the face of overwhelming obstacles. Her confidence in her craft kept her going when times became harsh, and in the end, it paid off, and she continues to put her effort into ensuring that kids who grow up as she did are still given love and affirmed as human beings.
Written by Max Olarinde, @mobeige1 on all social media.
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