Tiffany Haddish: from foster care to the funniest woman of the year

By Life Stories

Funny lady Tiffany Haddish is one of Hollywood’s biggest breakout stars. Today marks the premiere of her brand new show The Last O.G. where she plays funny beside her idol, Tracy Morgan.

Growing up in foster care, Tiffany led a traumatizing childhood and was faced with one life-changing decision: go to therapy or enrol in comedy camp. She chose the latter and went on to become the funniest woman of the year. This is her story.

Tiffany Sarac Haddish (born December 3, 1979)[1] is an American actress, comedian, and author.[2][3] After guest starring on several television series, Haddish gained prominence as Jackie on the first season of the OWN television drama If Loving You Is Wrong from 2014 to 2015. From 2015 to 2017, she starred as Nekeisha Williams on the NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show. After appearing in the 2016 comedy film Keanu, Haddish made her film breakthrough as Dina in the 2017 film Girls Trip, for which she received critical acclaim for her performance. In 2017, she published her memoir, The Last Black Unicorn.[4]


Early life and education[edit]

Haddish was born and raised in Los AngelesCalifornia.[2] Her father, Tsihaye Reda Haddish, was a refugee from Eritrea, and was from an Ethiopian Jewish family.[5][6] Her mother, Leola, was an African-American small business owner and a Jehovah’s Witness.[6][7][8][9] After Haddish’s father left when she was three years old, her mother remarried and went on to have more children; Haddish has two half-sisters and two half-brothers.[10]

In 1988 while living in Colton, California,[5] Haddish’s stepfather tampered with the brakes on her mother’s car, leading to an accident in which Leola suffered severe brain damage. The tampering was allegedly intended to harm Haddish and her siblings as well, but they had opted to stay home on the day of the accident.[11] Her stepfather disclosed this to her while having dinner.[12] The brain damage possibly triggered Leola’s schizophrenia. Haddish, then age nine and the oldest of her five siblings, became the primary caregiver for her family.[11]

At 12, Haddish and her siblings were put into foster care where they were temporarily separated from each other. While there, she used comedy as a way to cope with being in situations with new people.[13] When she was 15, she and her siblings were reunited under the care of their grandmother.

She attended George Ellery Hale Middle School in Woodland Hills and graduated from El Camino Real High School, also in Woodland Hills, where she was the school mascot.[5]Haddish said she could not read very well until high school, but improved when she received tutoring from a teacher.[9] She also got in a lot of trouble at school, despite her award-winning participation in drama competition featuring Shakespearean monologues. In 1997, after her social worker gave her an ultimatum to either attend psychiatric therapy or go to the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp, then 17-year-old Haddish opted for comedy as outlet for her pain.[5][14] She has said that the mentorship from many notable comedians—including Richard PryorDane CookCharles Fleischer, the Wayans brothers[15]—helped her discover her passion for comedy and it “literally saved her life.”[5] She has said that she incorporates her past real life experiences in her sets, finding that doing so functions as a sort of “safe space” for her.[5]

Haddish stated in 2018 that at the age of seventeen she was sexually assaulted by a police cadet.[16] She has stated that this led to her having an aggressive front when it comes to avoiding unwanted advances from men.[17]

Before her on-screen success, Haddish held a number of jobs, including customer service for Alaska Airlines.[18] Haddish has said she lived in her car during her 20s while in her early days of comedy.[15]


Haddish’s first break was a spot on the comedy competition Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes?[19] She has made guest appearances on such shows as Chelsea LatelyThat’s So RavenMy Name Is EarlIt’s Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaThe UndergroundNick Cannon’s Short Circuitz@midnightJust JordanIn the MotherhoodDef Comedy JamReality Bites Back and New Girl. She has also starred in movies such as Meet the Spartans and Janky Promoters.[20]

In 2013, she had a recurring role on Real Husbands of Hollywood. In 2014, Haddish was cast in the Oprah Winfrey Network series If Loving You Is Wrong.[21] She left the soap 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.[19]

In 2016, she co-starred opposite Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key in the comedy film Keanu in the role of Hi C.[22]

In 2017, Haddish starred alongside Queen LatifahJada Pinkett Smith, and Regina Hall in the comedy film Girls Trip for Universal Pictures.[6][23] The film received widely positive reviews, with an approval rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes[24] and a “generally favorable reviews” score of 71/100 from Metacritic;[25] it also became a box-office hit, becoming the highest-grossing comedy of 2017.[26] Her performance was cited by many critics as a Bridesmaids Melissa McCarthy–style breakout.[27][28] In the Chicago Tribune, Katie Walsh wrote, “this is Haddish’s movie, and will make her a star. It’s clear from the moment she hits the screen.”[29]

In August 2017, Haddish’s comedy special, Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood, premiered on Showtime.[30] Reviewing the special for Vox, Caroline Framke wrote, “Tiffany Haddish is just really damn funny, and deserves a recommendation wherever we can give it to her…Haddish 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.”[31] She also co-hosted the BET game show Face Value with Deon Cole.

On November 11, 2017, Haddish became the first black female stand-up comedian to host Saturday Night Live.[32] Haddish’s memoir, The Last Black Unicorn, was released in December 2017 by Simon & Schuster; it debuted at number 15 on The New York Times best-seller list.[33] It was ghostwritten with Tucker Max.[34]

As of 2018, Haddish stars opposite Tracy Morgan in the TBS sitcom, The Last O.G., her first lead in a sitcom.[35] 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.[36]

In 2018, Haddish signed a first-look deal with HBO.[37] In addition, Haddish will voice one of the main characters of the Netflix animated comedy series Tuca & Bertie,[38], provides the voice of Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, and is set to lead the comedy Limited Partners for Paramount Pictures.[39]

Personal life[edit]

As described in her memoir,[40] Haddish married and divorced William Stewart twice. Her ex-husband helped Haddish locate her once-estranged father who walked her down the aisle at their first wedding, which she once described as “one of the happiest days of my life.”[41] She filed for divorce in Los Angeles County, California, in 2011 and 2013.[6][42]

Haddish volunteers at the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp and for homeless and other charities that help people.[5] For a period, after she graduated from high school, Haddish was homeless, living in her car.[43][44] When she was nine years old, her mother was diagnosed with mental illness after a car accident and Haddish had to go into foster care. When she moved from home to home, she kept her belongings in a trash bag, which made her feel worthless. That is why she 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.[45] She also had a brief experience in Scientology.[6] At one point early in life, she was hospitalized with toxic shock syndrome.[5]



2005The Urban DemographicJanice Green
2008Meet the SpartansUrban Girl
2009Janky PromotersMichelle
2010Wax On, F*ck OffProstituteShort film
2011Driving by BrailleDrum Major
2012What My Husband Doesn’t KnowFalana
2013Christmas WeddingAurora
Patterns of AttractionSandra Lewis
School DanceTrina
2015All Between UsMishawn
2016KeanuTrina “Hi-C” Parker
2017Mad FamiliesKeko
Girls TripDinaAfrican-American Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress
MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance
MTV Movie Award for Scene Stealer
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress[46]
American Black Film Festival Rising Icon Award[47]
Nominated—Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Actress in a Comedy
Nominated—Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
2018Uncle DrewJess
The Oath[48]Kai
Night SchoolCarrie
Nobody’s FoolTanya
Taylor Swift: Reputation Stadium TourOld TaylorConcert film; archive footage
2019The Lego Movie 2: The Second PartQueen Watevra Wa-Nabi (voice)
Limited PartnersPost-production
The Secret Life of Pets 2Daisy (voice)Filming
The KitchenRuby O’CarrollPost-production


2005Pimp My RideHerselfEpisode: “Rashae’s Ford Taurus”
That’s So RavenCharlotteEpisode: “When in Dome”
2006Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes?Herself (contestant)Episode: “Warm It Up in LA”
My Name Is EarlRobinEpisode: “The Bounty Hunter”
It’s Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaStripper #3Episode: “Charlie Gets Crippled”
The UndergroundVarious1 episode
2007Nick Cannon Presents: Short Circuitz1 episode
Just JordanDiamondEpisode: “Krumpshakers”
2008Racing for TimeDeniseTelevision film
2009In the MotherhoodTeddyEpisode: “It Takes a Village Idiot”
Secret GirlfriendJessica’s Co-WorkerEpisode: “You and Your Ex Call It Quits”
2012The GameFriendEpisode: The Black People Episode
2013–2014Real Husbands of HollywoodTiffany7 episodes
2014–2015If Loving You Is WrongJackie14 episodes
2014New GirlLeslieEpisode: “Exes”
TripTankDelsyia (voice)3 episodes
2015–2017The Carmichael ShowNekeisha25 episodes
2016–2017Legends of Chamberlain HeightsCindy (voice)18 episodes
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance
2017Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to HollywoodHerselfStand-up special
Face ValueHerself (co-host)12 episodes
Saturday Night LiveHerself (host)Episode: “Tiffany Haddish/Taylor Swift”
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
2018Drunk HistoryHerselfEpisode: “Heroines”
2018–presentThe Last O.G.ShayMain cast
2018Sesame StreetDr. BirdwhistleEpisode: “When You’re a Vet”
2019Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black HistoryMae Jemison (adult)Netflix special
TBATuca & BertieTuca (voice)Also executive producer

Music videos[edit]

2017“Moonlight”Jay-ZPhoebe Buffay[49]
2018Nice for WhatDrake
What’s Going OnTodrick Hall
Apple Pie
Girls Like You” (Original, Volume 2 and Vertical Video versions)Maroon 5 featuring Cardi BHerself[50][51][52]

Video games[edit]

2009Terminator SalvationResistance Soldier

Awards and nominations[edit]

BET Awards[edit]

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.

YearNominated workCategoryResultRef.
2018Girls TripBest ActressWon[53]

Black Reel Awards[edit]

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.

YearNominated workCategoryResultRef.
2018Girls TripBest Supporting ActressWon[54]
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance (Female)Won

Grammy Awards[edit]

Grammy Award is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry.

YearNominated workCategoryResultRef.
2019The Last Black UnicornBest Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling)Nominated[55]

Primetime Emmy Awards[edit]

Primetime Emmy Award is an American award bestowed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in recognition of excellence in American primetime television programming.

YearNominated workCategoryResultRef.
2018Saturday Night LiveOutstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy SeriesWon[56]

Works and publications[edit]


  1. ^ “Tiffany Sack Haddish”California Birth Index. December 3, 1979 – via FamilySearch.
  2. Jump up to:a b Desta, Yohana (July 21, 2017). “Girls Trip Star Tiffany Haddish Is the Funniest Person Alive Right Now”Vanity Fair.
  3. ^ Kwateng-Clark, Danielle (June 2, 2017). “The Cast of ‘Girls Trip’ Take Us on an Adventure in ESSENCE’s July 2017 Issue”Essence.
  4. ^ “6 Most Shocking Details From Tiffany Haddish’s Memoir”E! Online. 2017-12-05. Retrieved 2018-11-10.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Brennan, Neal; Kasher, Moshe; Haddish, Tiffany (2015-01-07). “Tiffany Haddish” (Audio podcast). The Champs.
  6. Jump up to:a b c d e DJ Envy; Yee, Angela; Charlamagne Tha God; Haddish, Tiffany (2017-06-19). “Tiffany Haddish Speaks On Girls Trip, Escaping Death, Raising Her Siblings & More”(Video interview). The Breakfast ClubWWPR-FM.
  7. ^ Kwateng-Clark, Danielle (2017-07-21). “5 Things To Know And Love About ‘Girls Trip’ Star Tiffany Haddish”Essence.
  8. ^ Seabaugh, Julie (2016). “Best Breakout Comedian: Tiffany Haddish – Best of L.A. 2016”LA Weekly.
  9. Jump up to:a b Irrera, Dom; Haddish, Tiffany (2012-11-17). “Dom Irrera Live from The Laugh Factory with Tiffany Haddish” (Video interview (comedy podcast)). Dom Irrera Live from The Laugh Factory.
  10. ^ Faris, Anna; Sarna, Sim; Haddish, Tiffany (2016-05-09). “Episode #22 Tiffany Haddish!”(Podcast – audio). Anna Faris Is Unqualified.
  11. Jump up to:a b Jeffries, Michael P. “The Remarkable Rise of Tiffany Haddish”The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  12. ^ 1979-, Haddish, Tiffany,. The last black unicorn (First Gallery Books hardcover ed.). New York. ISBN 9781501181825OCLC 983269684.
  13. ^ Gomez, Patric (2016-04-22). “The Carmichael Show’s Tiffany Haddish: From Foster Care Kid to Sitcom Star”People.
  14. ^ Haddish, Tiffany (December 2012). “Dreams Come True Through Laughter”Origin Magazine (10). p. 57.
  15. Jump up to:a b Miller, Liz Shannon (2017-07-19). “Tiffany Haddish: Why The ‘Girls Trip’ Star Is This Year’s Comedy Wonder Woman”IndieWire. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  16. ^ “Tiffany Haddish opens up about being raped at 17: ‘I ended up going to counseling'”
  17. ^ “Tiffany Haddish reveals she was raped at 17 by a police cadet”. 31 July 2018.
  18. ^ Desta, Yohana. “Girls Trip Star Tiffany Haddish Is the Funniest Person Alive Right Now”HWD. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  19. Jump up to:a b Anderson, Tre’vell (1 April 2016). “‘Dirty’ comedian Tiffany Haddish searches for meaning on ‘The Carmichael Show'”Los Angeles Times.
  20. ^ Hyman, Devon (20 January 2014). “Actress Tiffany Haddish – Beautiful, Talented, Funny & Smart”Parlé Magazine.
  21. ^ Dalton, Deron (9 September 2014). “OWN Drama ‘If Loving You is Wrong’ Explores Women’s Desire to ‘Swirl'”Lee Bailey’s EURweb.
  22. ^ Chang, Justin (13 March 2016). “Film Review: ‘Keanu'”Variety.
  23. ^ Ford, Rebecca (24 June 2016). “‘Keanu’ Actress Joins Universal’s Comedy ‘Girl Trip’ (Exclusive)”The Hollywood Reporter.
  24. ^ “Girls Trip (2017)”Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  25. ^ “Girls Trip reviews”Metacritic. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  26. ^ “Girls Trip (2017) – Box Office Mojo” Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  27. ^ Galuppo, Mia (July 28, 2017). “‘Girls Trip’ Breakout Tiffany Haddish Dishes on Her Big Week”The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  28. ^ Debruge, Peter (2017-07-12). “Film Review: ‘Girls Trip'”Variety. Retrieved 2018-01-26.
  29. ^ Walsh, Katie (July 19, 2017). “‘Girls Trip’ review: Raunchy but heartfelt female empowerment”Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018-01-26.
  30. ^ Anderson, Tre’vell (20 July 2017). “With ‘Girls Trip’ and a comedy special, Tiffany Haddish’s ‘calling card’ is open for the taking”Los Angeles Times.
  31. ^ Framke, Caroline (August 27, 2017). “Tiffany Haddish’s new standup special proves her Girls Trip breakout was no fluke—and overdue”Vox. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  32. ^ Gibbs, Adrienne (11 November 2017). “‘Girls Trip’ Breakout Star Tiffany Haddish Making History Hosting ‘SNL’; Taylor Swift Performing”Forbes.
  33. ^ Cowles, Gregory (2017-12-15). “Tiffany Haddish on Bar Mitzvahs, Pimping and Other Rites of Passage”The New York TimesISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  34. ^ Bennett, Laura. “How Tucker Max Went From Chronicling His Drunken Sexual Conquests to Ghostwriting Tiffany Haddish’s Memoir”. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  35. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (10 May 2017). “‘The Carmichael Show’ Breakout to Co-Star in TBS’ Tracy Morgan Comedy”The Hollywood Reporter.
  36. ^ “‘Girls Trip’ Breakout Tiffany Haddish Joins Kevin Hart in ‘Night School’ (Exclusive)”. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  37. ^ Ryan, Maureen; Holloway, Daniel (2018-01-24). “Tiffany Haddish Signs First-Look Deal With HBO (EXCLUSIVE)”Variety. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  38. ^ “Tiffany Haddish lands animated Netflix series from BoJack Horseman creators”. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  39. ^ Jr, Mike Fleming (23 October 2017). “Paramount Lands Pitch Vehicle For ‘Girls Trip’ Breakout Tiffany Haddish”. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  40. ^ Haddish, Tiffany (2017). The Last Black Unicorn. Simon & Schuster.
  41. ^ News, A. B. C. (2017-11-13). “5 things to know about ‘SNL’ host Tiffany Haddish”ABC News. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  42. ^ “Tiffany Haddish Stewart Vs William Stewart – UniCourt” Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  43. ^ Parker, Najja (14 March 2016). “Tiffany Haddish Brings It All Full Circle”Ebony.
  44. ^ Wieselman, Jarett (19 July 2017). “Hollywood’s Next Queen Of Comedy Has Arrived”BuzzFeed.
  45. ^ “Actress Tiffany Haddish to be Honored at “Intro to Robo” Event for Work in Foster Youth Advocacy”Los Angeles – Living Advantage, Inc. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  46. ^ Thompson, Anne. “New York Film Critics Favor A24’s Lady Bir’ and The Florida Project – IndieWire” Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  47. ^ N’Duka, Amanda (30 November 2017). “Tiffany Haddish, Billy Dee Williams & ‘Power’s Omari Hardwick Named 2018 ABFF Honors Recipients”. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  48. ^ “Tiffany Haddish, John Cho Join Ike Barinholtz in Satirical Thriller ‘The Oath’ (Exclusive)”. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  49. ^ Yoo, Noah (August 4, 2017). “JAY-Z’s New Video Is a Black “Friends” Remake: Watch”Pitchfork. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  50. ^ Amatulli, Jenna. “Maroon 5, Cardi B’s ‘Girls Like You’ Video Is A Star-Studded Dance Party”HuffPostArchived from the original on May 31, 2018. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  51. ^ Glicksman, Josh. “Maroon 5 Releases New Version of ‘Girls Like You’ Music Video: Watch”Billboard. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  52. ^ “Maroon 5 – Girls Like You (feat. Cardi B)”Spotify.
  53. ^ “Tiffany Haddish, Drake, and All The Jews Who Rocked The BET Awards”. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  54. ^ “Get Out “Sinks” the Competition at The Black Reel Awards”. February 23, 2018. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  55. ^ “Grammys: Tiffany Haddish Nabs Best Spoken-Word Nomination”The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  56. ^ “Nominees/Winners”Television Academy. Retrieved July 12, 2018.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tiffany Haddish.
showAwards for Tiffany Haddish
Authority control LCCNno2016107933VIAF2730147270549335700004WorldCat Identities (via VIAF): 2730147270549335700004


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