Tiffany Haddish Had a Dreadful Childhood – inside Her Own Road from Tragedy to Comedy

Tiffany Haddish has become one of the leading women in comedy, putting smiles on her fans’ faces. However, her humor stems from a dark childhood filled with abuse and tragedy.

Emmy Award winner Tiffany Haddish is one of the fastest rising stars in comedy with a knack for making her fans’ jaws ache from laughter. Haddish rose to the top in a short time, garnering critical acclaim for her role in “Girls Trip” and successfully writing a New York Times Bestseller memoir. 

Unknown to many, life had been so uneasy and full of upheavals for the African American star who is a product of a broken home characterized by tragedy and abuse. She sought solace in comedy to distract her from the emotional pain and was able to build something worthy for herself.

Tiffany Haddish at the premiere of “The Kitchen” at TCL Chinese Theatre on August 05, 2019 in Hollywood, California. | Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images


Haddish was born on December 3, 1979, to an Eritrean father and an African American mother. Her father left when she was young, and she was taken to foster care after her mother had an accident that affected her brain.

It wasn’t an immediate success for the actress who struggled to break into the stand-up comedy world. According to reports, she credits colleague and friend Kevin Hart for giving her a helping hand with a loan of $300 when she was broke and living in her car.

Her first break came in 2006 when she was a contestant on the TV comedy competition show “Who’s Got Jokes?”. Years later, she was seen on “Def Comedy Jam” and the reality-show “Reality Bites Back.”

Tiffany Haddish Visits “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” at Rockefeller Center on April 5, 2018 in New York City. | Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NBC)

During this time, Haddish was cast in several sitcoms, such as “That’s So Raven,” “The Underground,” “If Loving You Was Wrong,” amongst others. She also got minor roles in the films “Meet the Spartans” and “The Janky Promoters.”

However, her career’s peak came in 2017 when she bagged the role of Dina in the box office successful film, “Girls Trip.” She received critical acclaim for her performance and was soon in demand in the entertainment industry.

That same year, she released her New York Times bestselling memoir, “The Last Black Unicorn,” which tells of her dreadful experiences with bullies. Her Showtime stand-up special, “Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood”, also premiered that year.

Tiffany Haddish attends Black Girls Rock! 2017 at NJPAC on August 5, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. | Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for BET

Riding on the wave of her success in “Girls Trip,” Haddish was asked to guest host “Saturday Night Live” in November 2017. The appearance made her the first African-American woman to guest-host the show in 43 years and won her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

In 2018, she began appearing in the comedy series “The Last O.G.” Her other acting credits include “Uncle Drew,” “The Oath,” “Night School,” and “Nobody’s Fool.”

Tiffany Haddish at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. | Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images


Haddish suffered abuse at the hands of her mother, Leola, after a ghastly accident, which caused the latter to have severe brain damage, leading an 8-year-old Haddish and three younger siblings into uncertain futures.

She recalled that her mother became “very violent and very verbally abusive,” as they couldn’t reconcile her to who she was before the tragedy. The actress believed her mom was demonized and often begged to go live with her grandmother, but Leola violently turned it down.

However, when she was 13, her mother’s turmoil became clear to Haddish when she got into an altercation with a neighbor. Leola was taken to the hospital by the police, and it was discovered that she had schizophrenia, resulting in Haddish and her siblings being moved to foster care.

Tiffany Haddish at the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. | Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images


Before fame, Haddish passed through many challenges, one of which was her devastating experience in foster care.

The star, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, details her childhood experiences of how she spent time in foster care between ages 13 and 18. 

She explained she was maltreated, slapped, was made to do menial jobs, and was molested. Speaking about her experiences in an interview, she said:

“I remember being in the system until I wasn’t worth anything (in state funding).”

Tiffany Haddish at the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. | Photo: Getty Images

She recounted the occurrence of having to move from foster home to foster home, calling it “the worst feeling in the world.” In her words:

“You’re dropped in these strangers’ houses, you don’t know these people, these people don’t know you, you don’t know if they’re gonna hurt you, if they’re gonna be kind, you don’t have a clue what’s going on.”

Tiffany Haddish at the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. | Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for New York Magazine

However, the “Nobody’s Fool” star managed to stay incredibly positive. During an interview with David Letterman for his Netflix special, the actress credited her talent and humor to survive.

Today, Haddish is an established star with several movies, and gone are the days of her uncomfortable lifestyle. 

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