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African American comedian and actress, Tiffany Haddish (b. 1979) was in foster and kinship care as a child.

Tiffany Haddish was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother and her father, who was from Eritrea, split up when she was a toddler. Then, when she was about eight or nine years old, her mother was in a near fatal car accident which caused significant brain damage.

By the grace of God she lived. But she had to learn how to walk, talk, eat, everything all over again. [It] changed everything about her. I used to think she was demonized. I thought maybe someone else jumped inside of her body. Like: ‘Where is my mommy? She’s gone (Complex).

As a result of her brain injury, Haddish’s mother became physically and emotionally abusive. She says that because of her mother’s struggles

“She’d just punch me. Just full on. Because of her, I can take a punch like nobody’s business” (Complex).

Eventually, Haddish’s mother was hospitalised in a mental institution.

Tiffany Haddish experienced trauma and instability while in foster care. She was placed in three foster homes and two group homes. Later, she lived with her grandmother in kinship care.

When I was in foster care, I mean, I thought I was going to die there. I didn’t think I would make it to 18. I remember being that foster kid and being like, ‘Man, I’m probably going to be in jail in two years’ (Variety).

As a teenager, Tiffany Haddish’s social worker encouraged her to pursue her talent as a comedian. She enrolled in the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp, a free summer programme for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds hosted by the Laugh Factory comedy club chain.

This experience inspired Haddish to pursue a career in comedy. As a stand-up comedian, she finds humour within the challenges of her personal life. Before becoming a successful comedian, Haddish spent time living in her car.

I’ve crashed weddings before, given a speech and didn’t know anybody there. That’s when I was homeless and hungry (Today).

Tiffany Haddish landed a television appearance in 2006 as a contestant on the comedy competition Who’s Got Jokes? Her next big breaks included Def Comedy Jam and Reality Bites Back. Her first TV comedy special, Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood aired on Netflix in 2017. That same year she became the first female African American comedian to host Saturday Night Live.

Tiffany Haddish is now a well-established actor. Some of her earlier film roles include Meet the Spartans (2008) and The Janky Promoters (2009). She has starred in comedy TV series, including Real Husbands of Hollywood (2013–14), “The Afterparty”. Some of her biggest roles include Dina in Girls Trip (2016) and Harriet in Haunted Mansion (2023).

Haddish has also appeared on numerous talk shows, including, Chelsea Lately, The Tonight Show, and The Arsenio Hall Show.  She has also produced and starred in an animated series, Tuca & Bertie, and the film Back on the Strip with Kevin Hart and Wesley Snipes.

Tiffany Haddish draws on her experiences in foster care to use her public platform to promote self-esteem and well-being among children and young people. She co-authored a picture book, Layla, the Last Black Unicorn (2022) with Jerdine Nolen. It is a story about an awkward unicorn who saves the day.

When I was a kid and I was moving around, all my stuff had to be in trash bags, and moving like that is not good for the self esteem because it make you feel like garbage that can easily be transported to here or there… That was the worst feeling in the world personally, and I told myself, if I ever get any power, I’m going to try to make sure kids don’t feel like that… So I started my foundation, and we started with just giving out suitcases (Harpers Bazaar).

Tiffany Haddish established the She Ready Foundation which provides resources, training, mentorship and on-going support to young people exiting foster care in California through internships in the media, arts, and entertainment industries. The foundation’s aim is to help ensure that

“Every child who is removed from their parents deserves to have a suitcase, a safe place to lay their head, and a platform to follow their dreams” (She Ready Foundation).

In 2023, the foundation held its first gala with appearances from Jimmy Kimmel, Paris Hilton, and Snoop Dogg.

Tiffany Haddish’s comedy acts have attracted some controversy. In 2022, two anonymous plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Haddish and Aries Spears due to an explicit comedy sketch titled, “Through A Pedophile’s Eyes.” The lawsuit alleges that two minors were abused during the sketch, which alludes to sexual molestation. The lawsuit was later dropped.

In response, Haddish expressed remorse on social media, stating

“Clearly while this sketch was intended to be comedic, it wasn’t funny at all, and I deeply regret having agreed to act in it” (Washington Post).

These days, Tiffany Haddish is selective about which roles she will accept, stating,

“My spirit, my integrity, how I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror every day… I’d rather be flat broke than get money to do something that makes me feel like s—” (Today).

Due to her experiences of poverty early in life, Tiffany Haddish is focused on “creating generational wealth” (Today). She has invested in real estate and uses her forture to support her mother. As she explains:

As bad as she was to me, I still couldn’t help but love her” (Complex).


“Mission.” She Ready Foundation. 

Ables, Kelsey. “Child sexual abuse suit against Tiffany Haddish, Aries Spears dropped by accuser,” The Washington Post, 22 September 2022.

Baur, Pat. “Tiffany Haddish.” Britannica, 1 Dec 2023.

Brockington, Ariana. “Tiffany Haddish says she used to crash weddings when she was ‘homeless and hungry’.” Today, 23 July 2023.

Devine, Christine. “Tiffany Haddish reflects on foster care days.” FOX LA, 26 May 2023.

Hamilton, Xavier. “Tiffany Haddish Discusses Growing Up With a ‘Very Violent and Verbally Abusive’ Mother.” Complex. 30 May 2019.

Richardson, Bellamy. “Tiffany Haddish Recalls Growing Up in Foster Care: ‘I Thought I Was Going to Die There.” People, 15 June 2022.

Sanchez, Chelsea. “Tiffany Haddish Recalls the Trauma of Growing Up in Foster Care.” Harpers Bazaar, 15 June 2022.

Urban, Sasha “Tiffany Haddish Opens Up About Years in Foster Care: ‘I Thought I Was Going to Die There’.” Variety, 14 June 2022.

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