Tiffany Haddish reflected on her remarkable breakout year, encouraged budding artists to speak their truth and described a deleted scene from Girls Trip during a riotous 17-minute speech at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards Wednesday. Haddish was accepting the organization’s supporting actress award for her turn in Girls Trip.
Haddish opened by praising the night’s drink special named in her honor, checking to see if her name was spelled correctly on her award, thanked God, her parents and then riffed on the similarities between herself and the statue of the Hindu goddess, Quan Yin, standing behind her.
“And when I look at her, I feel like I’m looking at myself,” Haddish said. “Like she taking a nap, but she doing a lot of stuff all at the same time. That’s what my life has been like the last year. I’m asleep, but I’m woke. I’ve never been more tired in my whole entire existence, and I feel like I do all these things … She got the sun in her hand because she light this motherfucker up. That’s me too!”
Haddish peppered in thank-yous to various friends and co-workers throughout the speech, as well as the New York Film Critics Circle – while also gently ribbing its members. Haddish said she she never read critics (“If it hurt my feelings I’m going to cuss their ass out in my soul, and then I’m going to pray for them,” she cracked), but noted how much it meant to be recognized after working in stand-up comedy and entertainment for 17 years.
“I know I’m going to do a lot of different things in this business. I’m going to be around here a long time. I’m going to be an old lady. I know some people in here are going to talk shit about me. It’s OK. You know why it’s OK? Because you care enough to say something. If you didn’t say nothing, then you didn’t care. So if you said something, thank you. I don’t care if it’s positive or negative. I appreciate you. I’m glad you see me. Because it’s been so many years nobody saw me.”
Haddish linked her years in Hollywood obscurity to growing up in the foster care system, where she said she often wondered, “Does anybody even know I’m alive?” She said how much it meant to now be an inspiration to kids just like her, telling the crowd, “There’s so many people like me that you guys have no clue about. But they coming. Because I kicked the fucking door open.”
Haddish continued, “Stop holding your truth; speak your truth. Be yourself. It’s the healthiest way to be. Be who you are. Speak who you are. If don’t nobody like you, fuck it; there’s 10 other people that do. There’s somebody like you, and they need to hear you.”
Later in the speech, Haddish spoke about how she landed her role in Girls Trip, noting that it was crew members on the set of Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key’s film, Keanu, who first passed her the script. At first she was unable to get an audition, saying the filmmakers were only looking for big-name actresses (“You tell them I’ve had a name since 1979,” Haddish instructed her agent), but eventually she was able to audition for director Malcolm D. Lee over Skype.
“I thought [that] was crazy as hell because I’m used to Skype sex,” Haddish cracked. “So I didn’t know … it worked out good. I didn’t take my shirt off. Nothing inappropriate happened, so good job. That was a great joke; that was the truth.”
Prior to this story, Haddish recalled an outrageous scene that did not make it into the final cut of Girls Trip because the studio apparently “said they was afraid that women would actually do this shit.”
“So, there’s a scene where I tell Regina [Hall] all the things I would do for her, that I got her back, no matter what,” Haddish said. “I’m like, no matter what, I got your back. I’m talking Timberland boots, hot bricks – I don’t care. We’re going to give him [ostensibly Mike Colter’s character, Stewart] some Ambien, night night. And then, when he sleep, we’re going to burn your name in his dick. And then we’re going to put mud and salt on it so it can keloid over, and then it will be ribbed for your pleasure. And then when he wake up, we’ll look him dead in his eyes, and we’ll tell him right to his face to keep your name out these bitches’ mouths.”
Haddish closed with her thoughts on fear and taking control of your emotions, as well as Hollywood. “I think this whole business is about how you feel, and what feeling you put out into the world, and how you make other people feel,” she said. “When you feel good about what you’re doing, in my mind, you make other people feel good.”