Who Is Ziwe? Everything To Know About The Clever Comedian

Ziwe Fumudoh, typically known simply as Ziwe, burst onto the scene in 2018 with her YouTube show "Baited with Ziwe." In the series, the Massachusetts-born entrepreneur skillfully addressed racial issues and stereotypes through satirical humor while conducting interviews with fellow comedians. A few years later, amidst the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ziwe transitioned her show to Instagram Live. Along with changing platforms, she elevated the caliber of her guests, featuring notable individuals like Symone Sanders-Townsend, a political strategist and commentator, and Rose McGowan, an actor-turned-social justice activist.

"There's an element of performance coming from me, as a host, and coming from my guests, as people who are answering for their racial biases," Ziwe explained to Variety of her approach. "I'm not there to judge their performances. I'm just there to critique why they feel the need to perform the fact that they have 4.5 Black friends." Other than utilizing her interviewing prowess, Ziwe also served as a co-host on "Hysteria," a political podcast by Crooked Media, in 2018. She worked as a writer for various media outlets, including The Daily Dot, Vulture, and Into the Gloss too.

Elsewhere, the talented comedian also lent her writing talents to the Showtime late-night program "Desus and Mero," where she caught everyone's attention. Seamlessly blending the array of professional experiences with her own inimitable comedic flair, Ziwe finally secured her own Showtime gig in 2020, aptly named "Ziwe."

Ziwe's upbringing heavily influenced her content

Ziwe Fumudoh confirmed to Variety that her strong work ethic is deeply rooted in the values instilled by her Nigerian immigrant parents, who came to the United States before she was born, making Ziwe a first-generation American. Additionally, her high school experience (she attended the Andover-based preparatory school Phillips Academy) was unavoidably biased, prompting her to ruminate on racial issues continuously. "They would literally treat [my name] like it's foreign, although they could pronounce 'Dostoyevsky,'" she recalled. 

Ziwe expanded on the motivation behind her work in a conversation with the Los Angeles Times, noting, "That was something I was penalized for in school — like, I was annoying. But now it serves a purpose," referring to her Showtime series. "Ziwe" took the network by storm, featuring guests like Drew Barrymore, Julia Fox, Wayne Brady, and Fran Lebowitz. The hit comedy series delved into a range of crucial social issues, tackling tough subjects like racism, beauty standards, and female empowerment while entwining them with humorous sketches and musical performances. 

As Ziwe stated proudly, "My show is super-hyper-feminine and very pink. That was a conscious decision, knowing how late-night is traditionally masculine." Although "Ziwe," the show, and Ziwe, the creator, cracked the late-night glass ceiling wide open and received predominantly positive reviews, the series was canceled in 2023 following the conclusion of its second season. According to Deadline, changes in the network's executive leadership were responsible for dropping the show, but unsurprisingly, it only helped to launch Ziwe to even greater heights of stardom.

The comedian wrote a collection of personal essays

Following the cancellation of "Ziwe," the irrepressible Ziwe Fumudoh dusted off her keyboard and got to writing. In 2023, she authored a collection of essays entitled "Black Friend: Essays," in which the lovable comedian candidly recounts moments from her life and once again delves into serious real-life issues, such as racism and body image, all while infusing her signature sense of humor. When discussing the book with Vanity Fair, Ziwe revealed that tackling such personal territory wasn't initially her plan but rather a natural evolution as she wrote.

In an ABC News interview, Ziwe pointed out that Black individuals in her book are presented as main characters, moving beyond stereotypical supporting roles for white characters. She wanted to challenge the misconception that uncomfortable topics such as racism could be detrimental, arguing, "I like to think that having these awkward conversations [...] makes people feel more at ease with the fact that they're not perfect, just like I'm not perfect."

Despite a pause in her television career, Ziwe remains resolute about forging ahead in whatever direction she sees fit, notably interviewing controversial politician George Santos on her YouTube channel to the tune of millions of views and tons of headlines. Ziwe reassured Vanity Fair that she had no plans to stop and more interview sessions were to come in the future. With a touch of humor, she concluded, "Until God cancels me, i.e., I die, anything is possible."