Why Tiffany Haddish Turned Down Offer to Host the Grammys Pre-Telecast Ceremony

Tiffany Haddish has spoken out about why she turned down hosting the Grammys Premiere Ceremony after she was offered the role without pay. An apology has since been issued to the star.

By Samantha Schnurr Dec 10, 2020 5:14 PMTags
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Tiffany Haddish is a 2021 Grammy nominee, but she won't be playing pre-show host for free. 

Every year, the Recording Academy hosts the Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony, formerly known before 2014 as the Grammy Awards Pre-Telecast Ceremony, where awards are presented in dozens of categories before the award show later that day. This year, Haddish was asked to host the Premiere Ceremony, but turned down the opportunity after learning the gig came without compensation, Variety first reported on Dec. 9. 

The actress revealed to the website that the offer involved hosting a three-hour livestream without compensation, nor did it include wardrobe, hair and makeup. "All of that would have to come out of my pocket," she told Variety. The star was nominated this year for Best Comedy Album and was nominated for the first time in 2019 for Best Spoken Word Album. "I don't know if this might mean I might not get nominated ever again," she told Variety, "but I think it's disrespectful."

Tiffany Haddish's Career Firsts

A rep for the Recording Academy told Variety the Premiere Ceremony is hosted by the Academy, a not-for-profit organization, and that all performers, hosts and presenters traditionally perform for free, as is the case this year. As for whether turning down the opportunity might negatively affect future nominations for Haddish, the rep told Variety the situation would have no impact.  

Meanwhile, Haddish was candid in her comments about the ordeal and called for this practice of stars hosting without pay to be addressed. "I was like, 'The exposure is amazing, but I think I have enough. I appreciate you guys asking,'" she told the website. "And as much as I appreciate the honor of being nominated, that's not okay."  

Harvey Mason Jr., interim president and CEO of the Recording Academy, later issued a video statement regarding the situation. "So, it's just been brought to my attention that the Recording Academy invited Tiffany Haddish to host this year's Premiere Ceremony," he said in an Instagram video. "Unfortunately and without me knowing, the talent booker working for the Academy told Miss Haddish that we wouldn't even cover her costs while she hosted this event for us,"  

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"To me, that was wrong. I'm frustrated by that decision," he continued. "It was a lapse in judgment, it was in poor taste and it was disrespectful to the creative…I'm part of the creative community. I know what that feels like and it's not right. Thankfully, Miss Haddish was gracious enough to allow me to have a conversation with her. I apologized to her personally and I apologized to her from the Academy. I expressed to her my regret and my displeasure about how this went down and how it was handled. Again, I want to say Tiffany, we are sorry and thank you for allowing me to speak up."

In late November, the Recording Academy came under fire from fans and stars alike after The Weeknd was shockingly nowhere to be found on the 2021 nominations list, despite having one of the year's biggest albums. 

"The Grammys remain corrupt," the performer tweeted following the news. "You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency..."

Mason Jr. eventually responded to The Weeknd's outcry. "We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated," he said in a statement. "I was surprised and can empathize with what he's feeling. His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone's admiration."