16 Things About Tiffany Haddish You Probably Didn't Know

by Kristyn Burtt
Mar 7, 2018 at 8:10 a.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's been in major demand. She's hosting Saturday Night Live and costarring alongside Tracy Morgan in the TBS sitcom The Last O.G., becoming Groupon's spokesperson, starring in the upcoming basketball comedy flick Uncle Drew and landing a two-year first-look deal with HBO. 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. One particular comedy program changed the entire course of her life.

Learn more about Haddish's life, from her bumpy start as a kid to a struggling artist to one of Hollywood's biggest rising stars. If you didn't know Haddish before 2017 catapulted her to stardom, you'll know her now.

A version of this article was originally published in November 2017.

1 /15: Her Father Was a Refugee

1/15 :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. To pay tribute to her late father, Haddish wore a traditional Eritrean gown to the 2018 Oscars. She told Ryan Seacrest that her father always knew she would make it there, and when she did, he wanted her to honor their heritage.

"So, I'm wearing an Eritrean, authentic princess dress," she said on the red carpet. "And I'm proud of it."

2 /15: She Lived in Foster Care

2/15 :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.

3 /15: She's a Laugh Factory VIP

3/15 :She's a 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.”

4 /15: She Struggled with Reading

4/15 :She Struggled 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."

5 /15: She's a Sexual Assault Survivor

5/15 :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."

6 /15: She's Guest Starred All Over the Place

6/15 :She's Guest Starred All Over the Place

Haddish has 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. 

7 /15: Oprah Winfrey Helped Her Get Her Start

7/15 :Oprah Winfrey Helped Her Get Her Start

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.

8 /15: She's Been Married — & Divorced

8/15 :She's Been Married — & Divorced

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.

9 /15: She Took the Smiths on a Swamp Tour

9/15 :She Took the Smiths on a Swamp Tour

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!”

Since revealing the story, she became Groupon's spokesperson and was featured in their Super Bowl ad.

10 /15: She Has Her Own Comedy Special

10/15 :She Has Her Own 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.

11 /15: She's One of the 'Most Influential'

11/15 :She's One of the '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!”

12 /15: She Published a Best-Selling Book

12/15 :She Published a Best-Selling Book

Haddish published her first book, The Last Black Unicorn, in December 2017. In it, she included personal essays about her tough childhood in the most fearless and funny way possible. 

Kids teased her that she was a black unicorn because she used to have a wart on her forehead. Instead of having her feelings hurt, she turned the nickname 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.”

The book is a New York Times bestseller, and it also has over 1,400 reviews on Amazon and an overall score of 4.8!

13 /15: She Made History on 'Saturday Night Live'

13/15 :She Made History on 'Saturday Night Live'

Haddish hosted Saturday Night Live for the very first time in November 2017 — and made history. She became the first black female stand-up comic to host the show in its 43 seasons. It was a hilarious episode, too; see for yourself and watch one of our faves below.

14 /15: She Loves Her Alexander McQueen White Dress

14/15 :She Loves Her Alexander McQueen White Dress

Did Haddish's white dress at the Oscars look familiar? It should; she's worn it three times already — and we couldn't love her more for it.

She wore it first at the Bad Girls premiere. Then she wore it during her SNL opening monologue in November. And when she presented an award during the Oscars alongside Maya Rudolf, there she was, wearing that white dress again, heels in hand.

“I feel like I should be able to wear what I want, when I want, however many times I want,” Haddish said on SNL. “As long as I Febreze it.”


15 /15: She Brings Herself To Her Roles

15/15 :She Brings Herself To Her Roles

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!”