Tiffany Haddish is putting in the work to build a lasting career, and as a result, she won’t be allowing anyone to dim her light.
The witty actress was among the topics of chatter stemming from this year’s Oscars after she assailed “Entertainment Tonight” red carpet reporter Lauren Zima for asking if Haddish’s second look of the night was the result of a “costume change.” Haddish swiftly took umbrage with Zima by responding with: “Uhh, I’m not wearing a costume. I’m wearing Dolce & Gabbana. It’s called an evening gown, darling. No one’s paying me for this. I paid for it. It’s custom. Thank you.”
The “Night School” actress was met with support online, as countless fans felt Zima’s word choice was disrespectful even if there was no ill will intended. Now, more than a month after the viral moment, Haddish is explaining why it was necessary to go after the reporter.
“Well, because every time I get in interviews, not every time but a lot of times when I get in interviews with certain reporters they like to discount my work. They like to make it seem like it’s a minuscule thing. For me it’s huge,” said Haddish while speaking with Derick Monroe of “Behind the Scenes Beauty with D.M.”
She continued by explaining how nuanced the use and connotation of “lil” can be. “I know where I come from, when somebody put little in front of something, if it ain’t little body, that’s not a good thing, it’s usually not a good thing, it’s usually a negative thing,” she explained. “Like, ‘look at your lil movie,’ ‘I saw your lil interview,’ ‘you did your lil show.’ That’s really like a backhanded compliment and I’m tired of it.”
“The Last Black Unicorn” author further added that she felt the comment also perpetuated the ways in which Black actors are not given the same level of respect and acknowledgement as their white counterparts. “I know they wouldn’t do that to any of these other actresses out here, you know who don’t have my same skin complexion. They wouldn’t do it to ol’ girl from ‘Hunger Games’ [Jennifer Lawrence]. ‘Oh look at you with your little costume change,’ like I’m in a d—n set, like I’m not on a set, this is not Halloween, they not issuing me a check to be here.”
Instead Haddish said the biggest night of awards season was a joyous gathering reminiscent of the prom. “This is an opportunity, this is my chance to celebrate all the hard work I put in over the year. It’s a chance for you to wear an evening gown, feel beautiful, hobnob with your colleagues, and have a good time and talk about maybe some projects coming up and give some accolades to people who deserve it.”
“But for you to go ‘oh your little costume,’ aww, man, I snapped. OK, so the little ghetto girl in me wanted to be like, ‘B—h, little costume,’ I wanted to clap and everything. That was the little girl inside of me wanting to come out, 16 year old Tiffany wanted to go off. But the adult Tiffany inside of me was like, ‘Pause, we can say all of this and still do it with respect. You can say how you feel but do it with respect.’ And that’s something I been working on for a long time, since I was like 20. How do I say what I feel, but say it in a respectful way?”