Tiffany Haddish Proves That Your Situation Doesn't Determine Your Success

Tiffany Haddish

When Tiffany Haddish was 13, she was put into foster care due to her mother's inability to take care of the young actress and her siblings. After a tragic accident left Tiffany's mother handicapped and mentally ill, Tiffany was forced to fend for herself against bullies and predators.

Tiffany's hardship followed her throughout her high school career, where she was virtually illiterate and had to plagiarize and copy the work of her classmates to earn her degree. Fast forward years later and the same woman who couldn't read words longer than two or three letters is now the first black woman to gross more than one billion dollars in the box office.


Tiffany Haddish is a reminder that we can accomplish every one of our dreams in spite of where we come from. This week's episode of The Red Table Talk featured a candid conversation between Tiffany and Jada Pinkett Smith, who have similar backgrounds. Both actresses were at risk of being trapped by their surroundings and becoming products of their environment, but were faced with very different outcomes.

"I thought I was gonna be a baby mama. I thought I was gonna be a baby mama with, like, five kids, four baby daddies, like, collect a county check."

Tiffany told Jada that after her mom had been thrown through the front window of her car in a traumatic vehicular accident, she or her mother were never quite the same, and her journey would only get harder with time.

"I remember being at the hospital and the doctor saying 'Your mom she'll never be the same you're gonna have to help her a lot more now.' So, she wasn't able to do a lot of things. So basically everything she had taught me up to that point, I was teaching her. But she became very abusive and violent, and never came back to being my mom. She's somebody else."

Although she had to develop tough skin to deal with life after she was put into foster care, you need more than that to become one of the most highly publicized entertainers in the game. That takes heart, and that's something that Tiffany has a whole lot of.

Thanks to the positive reinforcement of adults in Tiffany's life, she was able to overcome the deep-seated insecurity that had been embedded in her since childhood.

"My step-dad he used to tell me 'you stupid', then my grandma would be saying I was stupid and then my aunties would tell me i'm stupid, and then my mama would say I'm stupid. At that point in time in my life, anytime somebody said something to me, I would take it literal that I was stupid. So I didn't really put forth a lot of effort to try to learn how to read. It was difficult already, and if I'm stupid then what's the point? I'ma be a baby mama anyway. I already take care of kids, what I need to know how to read for? I know what hot dogs look like, I know what rice look like and I know how to cook that. I know how to use a measure cup, I know numbers so, it was like to me, not necessary."

It wasn't until a misunderstanding with a co-worker in her late teens that she realized her gift and chose to pursue her passion with rigor despite her troubled personal life. Tiffany told her Girls Trip co-star that her road to fame had not been easy, but every tear was worth it.


"Everything I've been through has prepared me for this journey."

When we look at celebrities, it's easy to imagine their silver spoons, but Tiffany reminds us that she's not any different from any other black woman in this world who has experienced trauma and disappointment. Her bank account doesn't care that she came from a less than perfect background because she has the hustle to back it up.


The easiest thing you can do is let your situation determine the height of your success. Although Tiffany suffered through unimaginable horrors, she survived to tell the tale and made a couple of bank rolls in the process.

In an emotional moment, Tiffany shared that her mother was recently released from her mental institution and is now being taken care of by the best doctors. The actress said that one of the best moments in her life was when her mother told her how proud she was. Tiffany knew that she wouldn't have been able to experience that moment if she had given up prematurely.


In the episode, Jada and Tiffany both mentioned that in their childhood, they were afraid of becoming statistics. Luckily, with the increased number of sisters with degrees and boss business chicks of color, the status quo has changed. Soon, we'll be able to model our statistics around women like these two actresses, who came from hardship and succeeded in spite of it.

Tiffany is a reminder that no matter what your history may be, you are given a new opportunity each day to create a future that's beyond your imagination.

Who's cutting onions in here? To watch the full episode, click here.

Featured image by Giphy

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“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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