The holiday season has so many different epithets, it’s hard to keep track. The next few weeks are somehow the most wonderful time of the year, the busiest time of the year, the most magical season, and more all at once — but above all of these, the holidays are the season of giving back. It’s a sentiment that we sometimes forget in the hustle and bustle of the season, but for comedian, actress, and entrepreneur Tiffany Haddish, giving back has been a year-long call to action. SheKnows spoke with Haddish about the holidays ahead, her upcoming Flo Jo biopic, her new children’s book, and how she’s giving back this year.
Emmy and Grammy winner Haddish‘s partnership with Vitafusion offered the star a way to contribute to a cause that’s very personal to her: hunger. She became a brand ambassador for the vitamin brand and has seen firsthand the effects of their work with nonprofit WhyHunger as they work to confront the root causes of hunger in the United States. This year, Vitafusion is matching donations up to $100,000 to help WhyHunger reach its goal of raising $1M to transform communities with healthy living opportunities and access to nutritious food, and Haddish is passionate about helping them meet those goals.
“One of my favorite things that I’ve witnessed is seeing kids pick fruit from the trees and eating it right there and being able to play outside,” the Like A Boss star told SheKnows. “The fact that they have teamed up together — WhyHunger and Vitafusion — matching donations with each other to make it to a million dollars to transform communities, I think that’s huge and that’s something that I’m a big advocate for, especially my community, to make sure there’s healthier options for us and an opportunity to live a more enriched life and not constantly be riddled with illness. I think it’s so important.”
As Haddish’s fame has swelled over the past few years, the star has consistently used her platform to spotlight causes that are meaningful to her like Vitafusion and WhyHunger. The actress has been booked and busy between her philanthropic work, prepping to play three-time Olympic gold medalist Florence Griffith Joyner, and awaiting the 2022 release of her children’s book Layla, The Last Black Unicorn, a book she hopes will teach children and parents that “it’s okay to be different.”
“It’s okay to not be like everybody else. Actually, it makes you even more special and amazing because you are different,” she tells us. “I remember as a kid, you know, like being different and I was a weirdo and I was not treated the best, and I felt bad about not being able to fit in. But later on in life, I realized, well, I’m not supposed to fit in. I’m a freakin’ unicorn. I’m special!”
Read on for our full interview with freakin’ unicorn Tiffany Haddish.
SheKnows: You’ve done so much work over the course of more than a year with Vitafusion and now with WhyHunger. What’s been your proudest moment so far? What are you looking forward to most?
Tiffany Haddish: My proudest moment so far working with Vitafusion is planting trees in South Central, L.A. That was something that was really awesome. And seeing that WhyHunger has come in and have been actually doing things — providing delicious and nutritious options for people. I think that’s so important and it’s cool to have something delicious. But is it going to really give you the nutrients that you need? The fact that they have teamed up together — WhyHunger and Vitafusion — matching donations with each other to make it to a million dollars to transform communities, I think that’s huge and that’s something that I’m a big advocate for, especially my community, to make sure there’s healthier options for us and an opportunity to live a more enriched life and not constantly be riddled with illness. I think it’s so important.
SK: What type of positive, lasting impacts have you seen or experienced when people have access to the nutrients they need?
TH: One of my favorite things that I’ve witnessed is seeing kids pick fruit from the trees and eating it right there and being able to play outside. That’s super good for me to see, personally. But yeah, just to see that people are not starving like they could be and the people that we’re able to reach, you know. There’s still a lot more people out there that need help; that need food and good food.
SK: Thinking about holistic health, you’re taking on the role of playing Florence Griffith Joyner. How has that training been going?
TH: The training’s not easy. I’m not even in the hardest parts of it yet! You know, nutrition is everything. What do they say? Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. You know, it’s like, so what I’m putting in my body — I feel like a mad scientist. It’s like, ‘Oh, if I mix this herb with this food, and this thing with that thing it’s going to cause this reaction in my body.’ It’s so cool! Some of her meal plans I’ve tried — I’ll be hungry still! But just learning so much about her. You know, we talk about holistic eating and taking care of yourself, that’s a spiritual journey. And transforming your body, whether it be something good or bad, it’s a journey. And it’s something that involves, I think, your spirit. I mean, personally, learning how strong I really am and how dedicated I really am has been quite tremendous and I know that it inspires others. So, that makes me feel really good too.
SK: What’s been the most surprising fact you’ve learned about Florence Griffith Joyner as you prep for this role?
TH: She was funny! She was a trickster. She used to like to play pranks, do jokes and stuff with her brothers and sisters and they would put on little shows and all that. That was surprising for me because it seemed like, she did have such a vibrant personality and was very fashion-forward, but she was very sophisticated. And here I’m thinking, you know, this is my closed mindedness, somebody who acts very sophisticated in interviews and things like this is probably not much of a jokester. But she loved a good prank and a good joke and a good laugh. She said some really funny things. She’s a wonderful person, wonderful personality, and always was bringing the light.
SK: It feels like there isn’t one genre or format you couldn’t conquer. What’s something that’s on your career bucket list that you want to achieve and why?
TH: I want to produce my own movies. Then I want to create opportunities for others and I’ve constantly been doing that. That’s something that’s a constant. I feel like as long as I’m on this earth, I’ll be creating something where others can benefit and win. My list is long, though. You know what, if you have goals, it’s really important to make your list of goals and then if you do at least one thing every day towards that goal, it will be accomplished. It might take a long time — if you can do five things in a day maybe it’ll happen a little faster. But every day that you work towards that goal it’s going to happen.
SK: One trend that’s been really cool to see play out is a number of actors and actresses getting into directing. Is filmmaking something you’re interested in?
TH: Easy peasy. I’m gonna do that. That’s happening. Just, what will be right? I’ve already directed a bunch of little sketches and stuff, but that’s different than like a short film or a feature-length movie or a sitcom of some sort. We’ll see what happens!
SK: You also have a children’s book coming out in May 2022. What was it like writing Layla, The Last Black Unicorn, and what’s the message you hope young readers and their parents take from the story?
TH: It was super fun to write. And, for me, the message I hope that the children take away and the parents is that it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to not be like everybody else. Actually, it makes you even more special and amazing because you are different. I remember as a kid, you know, like being different and I was a weirdo and I was not treated the best, and I felt bad about not being able to fit in. But later on in life, I realized, well, I’m not supposed to fit in. I’m a freakin’ unicorn. I’m special!
There’s something I see that other people can’t see but I can show them. So that’s why I came up with that story, and I think it’s so beautiful. The illustrations are pretty dang gorgeous. I’m going to be doing the audiobook. And, you know, I’m very big on making sure there’s something for all of my fans, ’cause a lot of the things I do, these kids can’t watch…But I wanted to create something for them. I did Kids Say The Darndest Things and the kids loved me on that show, they loved that whole series. So, giving them a little something to help enhance their existence…something for everybody.
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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.