Tiffany was born Stephanie Hwang in San Francisco, California. Her mother preferred to call her Tiffany. Growing up in Diamond Bar, she attended South Pointe Middle School and Diamond Bar High School. Being the youngest of three children, her father usually held her elder siblings up as an example to her. Even at a young age Tiffany had a passion for performing, that her father never took seriously. When she was 11, her mother passed away, causing Tiffany to become more distant from the rest of her family.
She was discovered during a stage performance and was invited to audition for the Korean talent agency, SM Entertainment. Her father disapproved, wanting Tiffany to go to college and become a successful business woman, like her sister. This caused her to argue with her father. She packed up her former life and moved to South Korea by herself at the age of 15. She trained at SM Entertainment for three years and seven months before officially becoming a member of the girl group Girls’ Generation, in 2007.