The comedian and Girls Trip star says before she had a booming career, she had to overcome years of sexual harassment in the L.A. comedy scene

By Janine Rubenstein
December 09, 2017 10:00 AM
Advertisement
Casey Curry/Invision/AP

Things couldn’t be going better for breakout comedian Tiffany Haddish.

After her recent Saturday Night Live hosting gig, the hilarious Girls Trip star is revving up for two new movies, a TV show and headlining her own She Ready nationwide standup tour. But her road to comedy stardom wasn’t easy to tread.

In new memoir The Last Black Unicorn, Haddish, 38, opens up about the rampant sexual harassment she faced while trying to make her way in the Los Angeles comedy scene.

“I can’t tell you how many promoters tried to tell me that to get on stage, I had to get on my back,” Haddish writes of her early days doing stand up. Her response, she says, was always “Hell no!”

Tiffany Haddish
Elton Anderson

Sitting down with PEOPLE to discuss, she says that during that time, “It seemed like everybody wanted to get in my panties. It was constant defending and battling. These men will try you every single time.” (Not all of them: Haddish calls Kevin Hart her “comedy guardian angel” for helping encourage her when she was homeless.)

Her book details multiple instances where unnamed comedy club promotors and comedians tried to take advantage of her. “It’s like hazing,” she says of the pressures placed on up-and-coming female comics. “Once they figure out you’re strong and you don’t roll like that, then they start treating you like a colleague.”

Related Video: Girls Trip Star Tiffany Haddish Reveals She Wants To Care For Her Mentally Ill Mom — Despite Years of Abuse

Some of her female counterparts weren’t able to avoid the pitfalls. “I look back at other women that started with me that were hilarious, they were superstars, but they compromised,” says Haddish.

It took faith in herself and a tough-as-nails attitude to make her dreams come true in the male-dominated field. That and the fact that, she says “I’m the type of person, if I’m going to sleep with you, it’s because I really want to, not because you’re giving me something.”

These days, “I see young female comics and tell them, ‘Girl, don’t let him pull your ho card’,” she writes in her book. “‘You’ll get more if you keep your legs closed, trust me.’”