With current roles in “The Last OG” and “Uncle Drew,” and soon starring in “Night School” and “Nobody’s Fool,” the funnywoman has a full schedule and even bigger dreams on the horizon. At Hollywood Confidential’s An Evening with Tiffany Haddish in Los Angeles on Friday night, the star told Variety that down the line, “I want to get my production company up and running, be able to provide a lot of jobs for people that actually have talent and skill, I want to still open up those streets — get two streets that intersect called Tiffany and Haddish — open up that youth center, that job placement center, that art center, that mental health center. I really want to give everyone a chance to be their selves.”
As comedy’s current “It” girl, Haddish is fielding plenty of offers, but said her choice of projects hinges on “anything that resonates with my soul I want to do, whether it be dramatic, cartoon, comedy, whatever…makes me feel like it would enhance other women and men and make society better in a way.”
During the conversation, hosted by Hollywood Confidential creator Steve Jones, she elaborated: “When I read scripts, I always think of 16-year-old Tiffany. Would 16-year-old Tiffany want to see this? Would 16-year-old Tiffany be telling all of her friends ‘Guess what I’m about to do, let’s go to the movies, let’s see if we can get a fake ID and sneak into this, you think your big sister would take us to see this?’”
Haddish also detailed her difficult upbringing during the event, telling of being placed in foster care at a young age and working as a struggling comedian while homeless. After the success of “Girls Trip,” though, she found herself in the company of many of Hollywood’s biggest names, some of whom have taken on the role of mentors and advisers.
One of those famous friends is Tyler Perry, who Haddish worked with a few years ago on “If Loving You Is Wrong” and again on the upcoming “Nobody’s Fool.” She said she has repeatedly asked him to teach her how to build an empire like his own. Eventually Perry gave in, and “he started teaching me things, sending me messages when I do stuff, I’ll ask him ‘What’s your advice on this, what would you do, how would you handle this?’”
Perry is not the only one helping Haddish reach success, she added. “After being homeless three times I’m never afraid to ask, ‘Help me, show me, can you teach me.’ I was working with Melissa McCarthy, I was like ‘How do you develop your characters?’ I ask Jada [Pinkett Smith] questions all the time, Queen Latifah, I’m never afraid to ask, ‘How can you help me?’” Haddish credited Smith, her “Girls Trip” co-star, with fashion advice before admitting that the dress she wore to the event she “stole this off the set of ‘Night School,’ you’re gonna see this in the movie. I was like ‘This is a cute dress.’”
On a more serious note, the actress even remembered getting early comedy advice from Richard Pryor and guidance from producer Ralph Farquhar, who was honored at the event with the Legend Award, while Haddish received the Trailblazer Award.
Farquhar, former showrunner of “Real Husbands of Hollywood” and a producer on “Married with Children” and “Moesha,” remembered meeting Haddish early in her career and scolding her for telling dirty jokes to the child actors on the set of TV series “Just Jordan.”
Mara Brock Akil, creator of “Love Is_ ” and “Being Mary Jane,” presented Farquhar with the award, as the producer gave her her start as a writer on “Moesha.”
“Thank you for changing my life, for seeing something in me. Thank you for creating space so that I could do what I do, so that I could have a dream realized. I know I’m not the only one so I’ll speak for everybody, there’s probably thousands of lives that you have touched,” she said, adding that he employed black directors even “back then.” “Production designers, you didn’t hear about black production designers, you were doing that back then…You created space for our stories.”
The Hollywood Confidential is a free panel series designed to educate aspiring actors, producers, directors and writers on the inner workings of the entertainment industry. Past participants include Sterling K. Brown, Issa Rae, Snoop Dogg and Regina King.