Why Doesn’t Tiffany Haddish Get To Be Unapologetically Black AF?
BY: DANIELLE GERMAIN
Whoopi Goldberg, Leslie Jones, Wanda Sykes and Mo’Nique are just a few of the Black women who have shaken up the world of comedy. With the release of the 2017 film, “Girls Trip,” it’s safe to say that Tiffany Haddish’s breakthrough performance and ongoing success have earned her a spot at the top of that list, too.
Haddish has made a name for herself, regardless of the hate she keeps receiving. She’s made appearances on shows such as "That’s So Raven," "The Underground" and "New Girl." In 2013, Haddish had a recurring role on "The Real Husbands of Hollywood" and, in 2014, she was a regular on "The Carmichael Show."
Haddish's breakout role as Dina in "Girl’s Trip," alongside Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Regina Hall, helped solidify the movie as the highest-grossing comedy of 2017. That same year, Haddish hosted her own comedy special, "Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood." Haddish in November came the first black female stand-up comedian to host Saturday Night Live. She also recently released her memoir, "The Last Black Unicorn," in which she discusses her personal experiences, all while giving us something to laugh about.
Haddish's life hasn’t been a walk in the park. She was born and raised in one of the poorest neighborhoods in South Central, Los Angeles. In her book, she writes about her stepfather, who tried to kill the family by intentionally tampering with the breaks on their car. The accident left her mother with serious brain damage.
Haddish ended up in foster care, but reunited with her siblings under the care of her grandmother. While in middle and high school, Haddish got into a lot of trouble. Given the option to either attend psychiatric therapy or go to the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp, Haddish decided to channel her pain into comedy. She went on to pursue a career in comedy, sharing her story with thousands of people and literally saving her life in the process. She came from nowhere and had nothing, yet she's used the power of laughter to inspire.
So why the hate? While society has allowed women like Cardi B to be loud and fearless, Tiffany Haddish hasn’t been given that same courtesy. Haddish’s career would’ve taken a completely different turn if she hadn’t been her complete and unfiltered self. And even though some call her behavior “ghetto” and “attention-seeking,” she’s making a name for herself, not because of the lines she’s reading off a script, but because she’s being her true self in such a complicated industry. Haddish has attracted a lot of attention in the media lately, and while we usually find comfort in Black Twitter, one user decided to throw shade Haddish’s way.
Haddish responded exactly as she knows how: With shade and a little bit of comedy.
Many of the comedian's supporters came to her defense, and before we knew it, @belledae apologized.
Tiffany Haddish is bold, awkward, honest and hilarious. She can’t change who she is, and she shouldn’t have to apologize for it. As her book title suggests, she really is as magical and as rare as a unicorn. We can all find parts of ourselves in her.
At the New York Film Critics Circle gala, Haddish summed it up perfectly:
“Think of me as a wild dog because I’m confident. I smile. Come up confident and look me dead in my eyes, I’m going to be cool with you. Come up scared and act like a bitch, it’s how you’re going to get treated. That might be too much information, but I don’t care. If this was a Black party, everybody would be laughing. I’m teaching y‘all something today. My name is Tiffany Haddish. I want to give it up to this lady back here. And to God, my grandma, my mama, my daddy and everybody who taught me not to be afraid.”
Haddish has the ability to bring her most authentic self into creative spaces. It’s something we can all learn from. We shouldn’t bring her down for it, especially because there are already so few Black women in the entertainment industry that represent us. We should be riding the journey with her and enjoying her moment.
If Haddish has to change who she is to fit a certain role or broaden up her genre of work, we’ll deal with that when it happens. For now, we should be proud that she doesn’t have to alter who she is to fit a quota. We should be doing the Nae Nae right along with her.