Tiffany Haddish is having the best year ever. Her unforgettable character Deena in Will Packer’s wildly popular comedy Girls Trip made her every Black Girl’s best friend. With a successful film and stand-up comedy special under her belt, the Hollywood “it” girl is still rising the ranks and appreciating each day as it comes.
In an interview with The Creators Of Color, Tiffany opens up about her rise to fame, how her skin color has positively impacted her career and the advice she gives to aspiring comedians.
Photography: Elton Anderson, Jr.
Styling: Bryon Javar
MUA: Rebekah Aladdin
Hair: Alexander Armand
How has being a person of color positively affected your career:
Being a person of color has positively impacted a lot of things in my career. And not just in my career but in other peoples careers. I have booked roles in movies that were meant for white women but because I came through with so much character and personality they ended up making it a black role. That allowed us to be seen in a different light. I feel like every time I get a job another little black girls dreams may come true. I think that being black has definitely created a lot of opportunities for others of my skin tone but also it has made me beautiful. I think it makes all of us beautiful. I know there is a white woman right now in Europe trying to be as black as she can be. She trying to be real black and that is probably because she saw me on something and was like “I want to be black too”. We inspire.
When did you know that you are on the right track and truly doing what you were put on earth to do:
I knew that entertainment was the thing I was suppose to do with my life when I was twenty three years old. I was very depressed, I was doing stand up comedy and working at the airlines and I ended up in therapy. The therapist was like “What makes you happy”. I said “Hearing people laugh makes me happy. Seeing people smile! I love teeth but I don’t wanna hurt anybody. Maybe I should be a dentist but that hurts people so I don’t know what I wanna do. She said “why don’t you get back into stand up comedy, do comedy more.” I wasn’t making any money at it and I started doing it more. My third time doing a open mic after that conversation somebody offered me a gig and they offered me fifty dollars for fifteen minutes of me telling jokes. I was like “What!” I went and did the gig and it was bad. I mean I bombed, it was horrible. The crowd was heckling me and everything and the promoter came over to me afterwards and I just knew the was gonna go off on me and tell me I couldn’t do it anymore but they gave me my fifty dollars. I was like oh this is what I’m going to do the rest of my life. They paid me and I was horrible. And they still paid me. This is my job from now on. I love this. This is what I’m suppose to do. I’m suppose to be an entertainer. Even when you mess up you still get paid, I need that. This is what I’m gonna do forever. And that is when I knew entertainment was the thing for me.
What is the one thing you are most grateful for from yesterday:
I’m so grateful for everything that happened yesterday. Yesterday was like the most magical, most fun day. I got to have lunch with Puff. I met with the executives at TBS . I met with some more executives but the one thing I am very grateful for from yesterday is that I woke up. And I’m grateful for waking up today and I better wake up tomorrow. And I better wake the fuck up tomorrow and next year and the next year after that and the next year after that. I gotta wake up till I’m 70.
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How important is it to create content even when no one is watching?
If you build it they will come. I think it is so important to continue to put out your art, talents, and gifts because you have no idea who is going to watch it. We are in such a digital age right now that something you put out just for fun or just for your friends can land in the desk/email/dm of somebody who can do something with it. Somebody can become a new fan and help your voice be heard in a way you never expected. That is what happened with me in 2008. I put out a really silly sketch right before I went to Liberia to do public heath (not entertainment related) and that was the thing Issa saw back in 2008. She said “Oh, this girl is really funny.” Cut to 2015, she lets me know HBO picked up her show and (…) she thinks it would be a good idea for me to perform. That seed was sown back in 2008, when nobody was checking for me. You have to keep working and keep putting it out there. It makes you better. I put out stuff that I don’t know if anyone is going to watch but its helping me become a better editor. Whenever I create something I can say, “Nope I want that shot. Nope I need it to cut off right there.” because I’m practicing getting my thing so tight. Practice makes perfect.
How did you know your were funny?
I didn’t know I was funny! I found myself praying and I heard the Lord say, “Do comedy.” I said “No”, and he was like “What else you got?” I replied, “All these rhetorical questions Jesus, I don’t appreciate them.” But, he was right. I didn’t have anything else. It was at that moment I chose (…) to trust him and take him at his word. I had been reading my bible and the stories sound real nice but if you don’t put action towards them then they are just stories. After that, I wrote a five minute sketch about what’s funny growing up Nigerian in America. Before I knew it, people were laughing and asking me if I host weddings. (…) Because I was a clean comic, I would get asked to perform at churches. I didn’t even know comics were broke and the Lord knew I needed a really good entryway. If I found out how broke artist are, I would have been like “No, I have two parents that love me and goat meat at home, why would I live this other life!” I started making $500.00 for a three or five minute set at churches and I was like “I’m never going to med school.” I don’t know a doctor making $100.00 a minute. That gave me the gusto to feel like “Oh, I’m funny, I could be funny and I can get paid and make a living off this.”
Photography: @eltonandersonjr for @creatorsofcolor
Art Direction: @robert_vance