Tiffany Haddish Releases Her First Children's Book: 'So Important to Play Make-Believe'

The actress speaks with PEOPLE about the inspiration behind her first children’s book, Layla the Last Black Unicorn, and what she hopes kids will learn from Layla's story

Tiffany Haddish
Photo: Robert Smith/Patrick McMullan/Getty

Tiffany Haddish is tapping into a new fanbase – children.

On Tuesday, the comedian released her first children's book, Layla and the Last Black Unicorn, which follows a young, Black unicorn named Layla as she navigates her first year attending school.

"She has her issues fitting into this whole new world," Haddish tells PEOPLE. "But in trying to be something she's not, she realizes, I can just be myself — and it pays off to be who you are."

Haddish's first book, The Last Black Unicorn, landed on the New York Times Bestseller List after its release in 2019 and features a collection of personal essays about the Los Angeles native's life and her journey to find fame.

The actress, 42, first realized she had an untouched fanbase while hosting the reboot of the classic '90s TV show Kids Say the Darndest Things. "I never thought I would appeal to the kids like that," she jokes. "But it turns out they really get me. And then I realized, hey, I'm a big kid, too."

"I think it's so important to play make-believe," she continues. "And to be able to tell your story through another character's eyes – through someone else's life – is really awesome. That's why I created Layla, the last Black unicorn."

Haddish says she's always seen herself as "the last Black unicorn" — as reflected in the titles of both of her books. The name Layla was an added bonus. "I've always loved the name Layla," she shares. "And it means dark, it means beautiful night."

The actress hopes the story will be something both children and their parents can enjoy together, noting she would "love" if the book could be a way for kids to "strengthen the bond" with their parents, siblings and friends.

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Tiffany Haddish - Layla the Last Black Unicorn

"I hope that kids share it with each other and trace the pictures and retell the story over and over in their own way," she says.

The comedian would love for Layla to act as a role model for younger readers. "I hope parents are able to have great conversations with their kids and maybe bring up certain things like, 'Would Layla do that? How would Layla want to do that?' " she said. "I would love for something like that to happen."

The kids' book is about self-discovery and self-acceptance, a journey Haddish says she has been on herself for "40-something years."

"I think everyone grapples with, 'Who am I? Why am I here? What's my purpose? How do I fit in here?' " she explains. "And just being able to take a moment and say, I'm okay the way I am. Even if somebody else doesn't agree. As long as I feel good about how I am, then there's nothing that I need to change."

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Haddish reveals that she plans to release a young adult book later this year and then a "grown-ups" book further down the line.

Though she's excited to release something for her younger fans, the actress quips that she's a little worried about them seeing her other projects. "The only thing I hope is that the kids aren't like, let me Google Tiffany Haddish."

Haddish also gives an update on her plans to adopt her own child, sharing that she finished the parenting classes many adoption agencies require. "I'm gonna ask for the ones that don't get adopted," she says. "That's who I want to look out for – 'cause I know what it feels like to feel like nobody wants you. And that's the worst. That's a whole other book."

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