14 Things to Know About Tiffany Haddish

by Kristyn Burtt
Nov 10, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. ET

Before summer 2017, many moviegoers didn't know the name Tiffany Haddish. That all changed with one movie, Girls Trip. Even though the film starred familiar names like Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith, it was Haddish who stole the show.

Ever since that breakthrough performance, she is in major demand. From hosting Saturday Night Live to costarring alongside Tracy Morgan in the upcoming TBS sitcom, The Last O.G., Haddish's career is red hot.

However, life wasn't always so easy for her. She had a difficult childhood with lots of upheaval and very little stability. It was one particular comedy program that saved her. It changed the entire course of her life.

Learn more about Haddish's life from her bumpy start as a kid to a struggling artist and now one of Hollywood's biggest rising stars. If you didn't know Haddish before Girls Trip, you know her now.

1 /14: She stole the show

1/14 :She stole the show

Tiffany Haddish stole every scene she was in while starring alongside Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Regina Hall in Girls Trip. The movie was a game-changer for her career, and she put a lot of herself into the role.

“This role,” she said to The Undefeated, “I’d say it’s 85 percent me and 15 percent some stuff I would never do personally!”

2 /14: Her father was a refugee

2/14 :Her father was a refugee

Her father, Tsihaye Reda Haddish, was a refugee from Eritrea and was an Eritrean Jew. He left her mother, Leola, when Haddish was only 3 years old, and he was in and out of her life. She reconnected with him when she was 27 years old, but he was still never the parental figure she longed for.

He died on May 11, 2017.

3 /14: She lived in foster care

3/14 :She lived in foster care

After her mom suffered brain damage from a car accident, Haddish found herself, as the oldest sister, in charge of four younger siblings.

“I was basically a 10-year-old mom,” she told People magazine in April 2016.

It was a chaotic time, and the family was eventually split into foster homes two years later.

Her grandmother was able to reunite the family when Haddish was 15 years old.

4 /14: Laugh Factory VIP

4/14 :Laugh Factory VIP

Even though she was under the care of her grandmother, Haddish was still acting out. A social worker told her she would either have to go to a psychiatrist or head to the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp. That one suggestion changed her young life after years of turmoil. 

While she was there, she was mentored by Richard Pryor, Dane Cook and Charles Fleischer.

“Going to that comedy camp and having all those men tell me, ‘You’re beautiful. You’re smart. You’re talented.’ Like, for somebody to tell me that, even if they didn’t believe it or mean it, it was enough,” she said to People. “It was enough to light a fire.”

5 /14: Her struggle with reading

5/14 :Her struggle with reading

Haddish struggled with her education due to all the upheaval in her home life. It wasn't until she reached high school that she was truly able to read. 

A teacher at El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hill, California, took an interest in her and helped her catch up with her classmates at school. She no longer had to cheat on her schoolwork to get by.

“I was excellent at making people laugh and getting people to do things for me,”Haddish said to Madame Noire. “All I knew were my ABCs and like three-letter words and McDonald’s. Things you see every day. So I was a professional cheater."

6 /14: She's a sexual assault survivor

6/14 :She's a sexual assault survivor

Haddish talked about being raped by her aunt's friend, who also happened to be training to be a police officer. Instead of driving her home from a school dance, he took her to his apartment and raped her.

It was her first sexual experience, and it was violent. She told her story on the podcast, The Champs, and described the horrific course of events to the hosts. 

“It felt like fire in my vagina, like fire sticks stabbing me," she emotionally recalled. "It was the worst feeling in the world."

7 /14: Guest star

7/14 :Guest star

You might not have known Tiffany Haddish's name before Girls Trip, but you certainly knew her face. She's been a guest star on shows like That's So Raven, My Name Is Earl and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. 

Even though she has worked steadily in the industry since 2005, she didn't have a major breakthrough for almost a decade until Oprah Winfrey's network came into her life. 

8 /14: Oprah Winfrey magic

8/14 :Oprah Winfrey magic

In 2014, Haddish got her first series regular role on Tyler Perry’s If Loving You Is Wrong on OWN. Her role as Jackie, a loyal worker at the Burger Fast restaurant on the show, elevated her career to the next level.

She only stayed on the show for one season because she booked an even bigger job on NBC’s The Carmichael Show. The show ran for three seasons on the network.

9 /14: Marriage... & divorce

9/14 :Marriage... & divorce

Haddish got married in 2008 to the private investigator who helped her find her father after his long absence in her life. Marriage was a part of the deal she made with her now ex-husband when he helped her find her dad.

I said, ‘Maybe you could find my daddy.' And he said, 'I'll find your daddy for you, but it's gonna cost you.' And he was like, 'I want you to marry me, that's what I want,’" she told Essence. “And so he found him in three weeks... And I'm a woman of my word."

The marriage ended in divorce in 2013.

10 /14: Groupon

10/14 :Groupon

During her press tour for Girls Trip, Haddish told the most hilarious story about taking Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith on a swamp tour she bought on Groupon. Not only did she give the couple a ride in her thrifty rental car, she also took them on a group adventure — no private boat in sight.

“You don’t want to be the bitch on TMZ that killed the Prince of Bel-Air,” she hilariously shared with Jimmy Kimmel. “That’s $280 million in the backseat of a $20-a-day rental, you got to be careful!”

11 /14: Comedy special

11/14 :Comedy special

If 2017 wasn’t already a good year for Haddish, it got even better when her comedy special debuted on Showtime in August. Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood covers everything from her tough beginnings to, yes, that A-list afternoon with the Smiths in the swamp.

12 /14: Most influential

12/14 :Most influential

In September, Haddish was listed as the 23rd Most Influential African American in 2017 by The Root. She joins an impressive list of leaders and public figures between the ages of 25 and 45 who are making a difference in society.

She is on the list just behind Jordan Peele, Solange Knowles and Ava DuVernay — all people she was excited to be associated with. She tweeted her excitement on the day the list was published, ”Somebody made a list!”

13 /14: 'The Last Black Unicorn'

13/14 :'The Last Black Unicorn'

Mark your calendars for Dec. 5, 2017. That’s the day Haddish’s first book, The Last Black Unicorn, comes out.

Fans can expect personal essays from the comedian about her tough childhood in the most fearless and funny way possible. The nickname comes from a wart she used to have growing out of her forehead and kids teased her she was a black unicorn.

Instead of having her feelings hurt, she turned into something special for herself.

"I started thinking that unicorns are beautiful. Unicorns are magical. And they're right, I am a unicorn, she told the LA Times. "I’m the last black unicorn! I'm a magical creature.”

14 /14: 'Saturday Night Live'

14/14 :'Saturday Night Live'

Haddish is topping off her fall by hosting Saturday Night Live for the very first time on Nov. 11, 2017.  It might seem like a lot of pressure to be sandwiched between hosts Larry David and Chance the Rapper, but she's ready for it.

It will also be a night of girl power on the set, because Taylor Swift is joining the show as the musical guest and will hopefully appear in a sketch or two.