What’s the best thing that’s happened to Tiffany Haddish in the past year? Tough question.
She takes a deep breath. “Meeting Oprah, getting a Tesla, hosting the MTV Movie and TV Awards, winning awards, going on trips, staying in different countries, getting an award in Canada. Going to Africa was really super awesome. Getting to meet my aunties and cousins that I hadn’t met before. Having the funds to get my mother out of a mental institution — that’s freaking amazing — and getting her the best doctors. Being able to afford to take care of my grandmother. That’s really better than everything.”
She pauses. “I could keep going because it’s been a pretty phenomenal year,” says Haddish, laughing. But she has one more to add. “Being able to see my ex-boyfriends in passing, them saying ‘Hey, I’d like to take you to dinner some time,’ and me saying, ‘I’m sorry. I’m busy.’ That’s pretty awesome too.”
A year after her breakout role in “Girl’s Trip,” Haddish is indeed busy. Up next is the Tyler Perry written-and-directed comedy “Nobody’s Fool,” which pairs her with Tika Sumpter. They play sisters, with Whoopi Goldberg as their mom. Once Haddish’s character gets out of jail, they discover that Sumpter’s boyfriend is catfishing her. “
Nobody’s Fool,” out Friday, will test just how much Haddish audiences want. It’s her third film in theaters in just the last month, following “Night School” (which paired her with her longtime mentor, Kevin Hart) and Ike Barinholtz’s dark indie comedy “The Oath.” Plus, last month, she was a standout at the Emmys, where she won for hosting “Saturday Night Live.” (She was the first black female comic to host.)
With blistering speed, Haddish has become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand talents. Everyone from Paul Thomas Anderson to Judd Apatow (who’s interested in adapting Haddish’s memoir, “The Last Black Unicorn”) wants to work with her. She’s also prepping a Netflix stand-up special, developing a sitcom with Danielle Sanchez-Witzel (“The Carmichael Show”) and readying season two of “The Last O.G.,” with Tracy Morgan. And that’s to say nothing of her litany of projects due next year.
Haddish’s ubiquity this falls has been the culmination of her inspiring rise from a difficult upbringing to the highest reaches of show business. The 38-year-old comedian has said she was abused a child before entering foster care, and later was briefly homeless while trying to make it as a stand-up in Los Angeles. But her confidence in her future never wavered; Haddish’s production company is named after her personal slogan: She Ready.
“People always say, ‘Are you surprised?’ No, I’m not surprised. I manifested this,” Haddish said in an interview earlier this fall. “This is part of my list of goals. I’m grateful I’ve accomplished this much so far, but there’s so much more I want to do. I want to build my own studio one day. I’ve got my little production company going and I want to create things that inspire people to be their best selves.”
Yet as much as Haddish has been accomplishing, some objectives have remained elusive. “Still trying to get pregnant by Leonardo DiCaprio,” she says. “He’s not giving me the time of day right now but he’ll come around.”
Haddish’s telling of her encounter with DiCaprio is exactly what has made her so beloved: She’s radically unfiltered and unapologetically herself. If she wants to wear an Alexander McQueen red-carpet dress over and over again, she will. And if she has a good story about meeting a celebrity, she’ll tell it. Of her DiCaprio-like flirtation with Michael B. Jordan, Haddish says that at the Met Gala the two decided “it’s probably best just to work together.” (One tight-lipped exception: She won’t comment anymore on that infamous Beyonce party scene: “Don’t ask me who bit Beyonce because I’m not gonna snitch!” Haddish says, laughing.)
But, as Sumpter found out, it can be quite a whirlwind joining Haddish’s world. While making “Nobody’s Fool,” the pair crashed a prom in their hotel, dancing in a sea of awe-struck teenagers while streaming it on Instagram.
“She just does what she does,” says Sumpter. “Tiffany is going to be Tiffany, you just let her run with it. It felt like real sisters. We had each other’s backs. She’s very supportive. I feel like our chemistry was pretty grand.”
Haddish acknowledges some things have changed for her. Now, she gets up every morning at 4 or 5 a.m. “I work every single day. I’ve always worked every day, just not as hard,” she says. But the overwhelming interest in all things Haddish (she also signed a first-look deal with HBO earlier this year) has also been exhausting. “I turn down things every day,” she says.
How does it feel to be so loved? “It feels just like when I was in high school and I was a mascot. I was the most popular girl in school because I was the goofiest girl in school,” says Haddish. “It feels just like high school but amplified.”
But at a time when comedy has struggled mightily at the box office, Haddish has proven the great exception. “Night School” was the first traditional comedy in more than two years to open No. 1. “Nobody’s Fool” isn’t expected to manage the same feat; it opens against “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” and unlike those films, “Nobody’s Fool” isn’t being screened in advance for critics. But there could be considerable potency still in the combination of Haddish and Perry, a box-office powerhouse, himself.
Regardless, Haddish has her sights set on bigger goals. She has visions of her own studio and self-help center, sitting on the corner of two streets: Tiffany and Haddish. She will make it happen, she insists. “And I will be changing people’s lives for the better.”
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP