Tiffany haddish on beyoncé, growing up in foster care, and whales gq west la college athletics

They’re people like tiffany haddish, who has been on this whale-watching expedition for ten minutes and is already its undisputed captain—a turn of events no doubt surprising to the disputed captain, i.E., the man commanding the vessel and ostensibly hired to lead the tour. Gleeful in mutiny, haddish’s fellow passengers beseech her to hijack microphone duties from captain nick. Only one or two of them recognize her as a professional comedian and newly minted movie star; to the majority of middle-aged white people on this boat, she is simply a confident woman with three free hours to search for whales off the coast of los angeles. A woman whose commentary they enjoy.

The january morning is sparklingly sunny and dreamily warm, even by haddish’s standards as a southern california native.Feeling good

though most people on the voyage have never heard of tiffany haddish, the details of her presence surely suggest to them that she is someone exciting. Flung on the deck is her large gucci shoulder bag containing a full gallon jug of water with lipstick on the rim—haddish’s water bottle. Her denim jacket bears marks of intentional spray paint, and she’s also wearing intentional uggs. Her hair is a glossy panel of pristine, shoulder-length black—a wig, explains haddish. It gleams in the sun as she dances in the breeze at the bow of the boat.

It took less than one minute on the boat to confirm that haddish connects with people very easily—a quality that led to her being cast in girls trip. She learned of the script—which follows four college friends as they re-unite at ESSENCE festival, an annual african-american music festival—not from producers, or her agent, but through a grapevine of behind-the-scenes crew members who remembered her fondly from the set of 2016’s keanu, in which haddish starred opposite keegan-michael key and jordan peele.Feeling good

Haddish recalls that she was the only lead actress required to audition for her character, who, in contrast with the others boasting first and last names, is listed in the credits merely as “dina.” and yet it is immediately evident upon viewing that haddish is the spark that caused the movie to explode into the biggest comedy hit of 2017. Her performance is so good it is jarring. The skill with which she inhabits comedy-cherry-bomb dina is uncanny—almost as if haddish really is dina, and the other actresses have been hired to portray her “friends” in an elaborate truman show-style hidden-camera documentary. Her delivery is so natural that her fellow actors can sound stilted by comparison, like they are reciting lines from a fable. You learn quickly to seek her out at every moment, even in the background.Girls trip in one early scene, she remains the center point even as she walks out of frame—stomping angrily, muttering to herself, and completely out of focus, with her back turned to the camera. Tiffany haddish is to girls trip as daniel day-lewis is to there will be blood.

But it’s what haddish did after the film’s release in july that made her a phenomenon. She demolished its promotional tour with unprecedented skill. Take, for instance, her appearance on the late show with stephen colbert. It begins like every five-minute interview segment: the celebrity emerges from backstage and walks to her seat as the house band plays a fleeting introductory fanfare. But when haddish arrives at the chair next to colbert’s desk, she does not sit; she begins dancing. She sways, and bops, and thrusts her hips in time to cymbal smacks.Feeling good she does the running man in stilettos. The warm smile on haddish’s face suggests to viewers that this is not kaufman-esque performance art but a woman experiencing joy. She dances uninterrupted for nearly 30 seconds, which is way longer on TV than it sounds. Stephen colbert visibly falls in love with her, and then has no idea what to do with himself, because the only thing conservatively dressed white men can do around haddish is smile and clap somewhat nervously. Colbert does that.

Being this very much yourself can be incredibly lucrative if you’re really, really good at it. Oprah good at it. Ellen good. Stern good. Propelled by the success of the movie, haddish’s winning personality spontaneously generated new opportunities for her to display it. An appearance on jimmy kimmel live!, where she shared an anecdote about taking will and jada smith on a groupon swamp tour, spawned a partnership with the coupon website, which led to haddish starring in a super bowl commercial as herself.Tiffany haddish

Haddish held this story in for as long as she could. Weeks. When people asked about what happened when she met beyoncé, she tried to remain vague: “I’m not at liberty to say,” she would explain. But haddish is feeling good in this particular moment on this particular whale watch, and because her personality is perilously infectious, when tiffany is feeling good, the whole world in her immediate vicinity gets better. She’s exploring the open water with no cell service. (later, on land, haddish will open her phone to realize it has logged hundreds of text messages and missed calls.) she’s already seen some whales, more dolphins, and tons of sea lions, to whom she called, “arf arf!” the sun is intoxicating, and the wind is riffling her wig and gently cooling the piping hot cup O’ noodles in her hand. (“cup O’ noodles is only two dollars!” haddish whisper-gasped when she saw that cup O’ noodles was only two dollars.) right now tiffany haddish is too happy to keep a tale this juicy bottled up inside her any longer.Feeling good

“my business run different than her business,” says haddish. “I don’t live her life. I don’t have that husband of hers. I’m looking at how [netflix has] opened up so many opportunities for black females and comedy. When my people are dying, that’s when you gonna catch me protesting. I’m not gonna protest because somebody got offered not the amount of money they wanted to get offered. If you don’t like what they’re offering you, just no longer do business with them. If I protest netflix—what about all the black shows that are on there? What about all the other actors that are working on there? All the indians, the hispanics, the asians. My show, the carmichael show, airs on there right now. It ain’t on NBC.”

Curiously, for someone so willing to discuss deeply personal topics like childhood trauma (haddish estimates that the stories told in her stand-up act are “75 percent” autobiographically true—“like the movie big fish”), virtually no information is known about haddish’s life now that she has, by all accounts, made it.Feeling good she is 38. She makes frequent reference to the fact she is single—a maneuver equal parts joking and evasive. Her instagram posts, while lively, are almost entirely work-related and thus fail to answer the question: what happens after you get everything you’ve ever wanted?

“I’m mostly taking care of my family right now,” she says, and then breaks down exactly how: “I just got my mom out the mental institution. Once you start making it in the business, you start meeting all kinds of people that”—she leans in conspiratorially—“definitely have mental problems. And they link you up with the best psychiatrists. Literally all my money goes into my grandmother and my mother. I got a two-bedroom apartment and moved my sister in so she could be monitoring [our mom]. I got nurses for my mom.Tiffany haddish my grandma bumped her head and had to have her brain drained, and she’s dealing with alzheimer’s. I’ve got meal services coming to the house for her and for my mom.”

One of the most striking parallels between haddish’s personal and professional lives involves her newest TV role, opposite tracy morgan on the last O.G., airing on TBS this april. Co-created by jordan peele, the series stars morgan as an ex-con who returns to his brooklyn neighborhood to find his girlfriend, shay—now going by shannon, portrayed by haddish—living in a bougie renovated brownstone with a white man and 15-year-old twins. It’s morgan’s TV homecoming—his first full-time network gig since a violent 2014 automobile crash that killed his friend, comedian uncle jimmy mack, and left morgan comatose with a traumatic brain injury.Girls trip

As if her climb to success weren’t remarkable enough, haddish estimates that up until about age 16, she remained at a “first- or second-grade reading level”—an experience she recounts in the last black unicorn. The mega-best-selling book made headlines after it was published, when it was revealed haddish worked on it with a surprising collaborator: controversial writer tucker max, known for his breezy accounts of lewd, misogynist behavior. While it’s commonplace for celebrity memoirs to be written with the assistance of a silent ghostwriter, max—who co-founded a self-publishing business that, for a fee of $25,000, allows aspiring authors to dictate their books through a series of phone interviews—touted his involvement, going so far as to publicly call the memoir “my first new book of short stories in years.”

feeling good

While it’s obvious from conversing with haddish that she is a verbalist of well-above-average skill, even now she speaks of mastering reading in the present tense: “the better I get at reading…” she says she used to be able to recount long passages of text verbatim—“like a stenographer”—but the aptitude is fading in inverse proportion to her literacy. (“like, ‘oh, I can read this? I don’t have to know it that well.’ ”) she credits her still “pretty damn good” memory with helping her internalize dialogue in scripts.

She has made herself aspirational not for her wealth but for her delight. Actors devote such effort to emphasizing the difficult aspects of their job that when tiffany behaves in a way that suggests what the public has always believed— being a movie star is fun!—is true, it feels like bold, suspicion-validating candor.Girls trip people do not begrudge her success, because she visibly relishes it. (and if haddish should ever discover that she’s coming on a little too strong—too loud, too happy, too out of control—she’s equipped for that, too. She turns on the calm voice she learned working in customer service for alaska airlines, shifts smoothly into a lower gear until equilibrium is restored.) the truth is that haddish’s work is just as demanding as her counterparts’, and her counterparts enjoy at least as high a quality of life as haddish. They’re just emphasizing different aspects of the job.