Talking with Tiffany Haddish on the phone is like chatting with one of your besties.
This should come as no surprise, since the Hollywood up-and-comer stars in the most anticipated girlfriend movie of the summer. Girls Trip reintroduces us to Haddish, 37, the provocative comedian who made her onscreen debut last year in Jordan Peele’s blockbuster Keanu.
Also starring comedy queens Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Queen Latifah, Girls Trip is the story of four women who set out on a vacation to rekindle their sisterhood, which sends them on an adventure to ESSENCE Festival, a real-life experience that takes place in New Orleans every year.
Haddish got her start at the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp for underprivileged children when her frustrated social worker suggested it as an outlet for all of Tiffany’s personality. Having grown up in foster care she credits a lot of her success to this social worker.
After doing stand-up for years, she landed a role currently co-starring as the outspoken, no-nonsense Nekeisha on the NBC comedy The Carmichael Show.
NBCBLK got a chance to catch up with Tiffany Haddish while she was coincidentally en route to the 2017 ESSENCE Festival. We found out more about her part in the upcoming film, checked in on how she’s feeling about all her recent successes, and learned whether or not those onscreen friendships were as real as they looked (spoiler alert: #SquadGoals).
NBCBLK: Girls Trip has an incredible cast and amazing writers. How did you first hear about this project?
Tiffany Haddish: I did Keanu, and a lot of the crew members who were working on that movie started doing the setup for Girls Trip. At least eight different people hit me up and said, “You gotta get in for this role… they’re still casting for it, and it’s you. It’s you.” So they sent me the script, and I read it, and I thought, “Aw, man, this is me.”
I sent it to my team, telling them, “You’ve gotta get me into this movie.” They said the team making the film was looking for a name, so I said, “I’ve had a name since I was born.” They let me come in and audition, so I auditioned four times and I got the part.
What was filming like? Did you guys get along on and off screen?
Yes, they’re like my sisters. We enjoy each other so much. I might get on their nerves sometimes, and they’ll be like, “Tiffany, calm down.” And I just calm down. We were together all the time, and I learned so much from all of them.
You said parts of your character, Dina, are a lot like you in the real life. Can you describe your character in the movie?
So, Dina is this fun-loving, short-tempered woman. She loves to have a good time by any means necessary, but at the same time, she’s zero to a hundred real quick, and she’s down for her girls.
At the end of the day, all she has is her friends, so she’s always down to protect them and make sure they’re safe. That’s all she cares about because she has nothing else.
What do you think of the comparisons between Girls Trip and Rough Night?
They’re very different films, they’re just coming out rather close to each other. I honestly don’t think they’re similar at all. I feel like there’s a lot of talent in the movie; a lot of the women are funny. Also, I think the men in Rough Night are funny.
In our movie, the women are the stars; they’re the funniest part of the movie. When you walk out of Girls Trip, you’re going to feel like you had such a great time and like it was a blast.
I want to hear a little bit more about you and your background because I know you’ve been doing this for a while. What kept you motivated while you were pursuing comedy?
What kept me going is that I fell in love with it. I think of comedy as my man; it’s the one thing I can always rely on that will keep me safe, keep me fed, put a roof over my head. I can do a show anywhere. I can get on a stage anywhere in the world and make some money.
Was there a time you recall wanting to give up, before you got your big break?
As far as ever wanting to give up, there have been a few times where I thought, “Man, am I even good enough to do this?” Because people have said things to me like, “You’re too pretty. You shouldn’t do comedy. Go ahead and get pregnant by a rich guy and chill.”
People have said that me. At first, I would get really upset about it, thinking, “Man, maybe they’re right.”
But then I would get on stage and have a killer show, and people would tell me I’m hilarious. After the third time that happened, I started thinking that anyone who says that to me is intimidated. They’re scared that I might be more successful than them.
Tell me more about your production company, She Ready.
I produce comedy sketches, and I’m hoping I’ll eventually produce movies. I want to have a foundation to influence young women (and young men, too) in the entertainment realm because when I was younger, the Laugh Factory comedy camp gave me a voice and confidence.
Colleagues of mine who were in the comedy camp are doctors and lawyers now; they’re not necessarily comedians, but that chance to be on stage gave us the confidence that we needed to accomplish what we’re supposed to accomplish in life. I want to be able to give that back.
Your story is super inspirational. What professional advice do you have for the next generation of Black female comics?
For any women trying to do comedy, I would suggest you do one thing every day towards your goal. First, you figure out what it is you want to accomplish.
Don't be afraid to set a new goal every day, but every single day, do one thing towards your goal, and you will achieve it. Always write two or three jokes a day, and get on stage as much as possible.
Are you guys going to Essence Fest this year?
We are actually on our way to the airport right now!
After Girls Trip, expect to see more from Tiffany Haddish. Audiences can look out for her on stage in her first stand-up Showtime special, Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood! on August 18.
After that, she will appear alongside Tracy Morgan in the sitcom The Last Black Unicorn. This show will be her second time working with Jordan Peele, who produces the series. As for her plans for the future, Haddish has said, “I’m just going to keep doing this comedy thing. I’m trying to influence the world.”