Lifetime Fitness

Taye Diggs Is Unapologetically Himself

The bright lights of Hollywood are a long way from the working-class neighborhood Taye Diggs knew growing up in Rochester, NY. These humble beginnings shaped the actor he’d become, and his journey to fame is a testament to the power of perseverance and determination. With raw talent, undeniable charisma, and unwavering dedication to his craft, Diggs has become one of the most respected actors in the industry today.

In a recent episode of the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast, Diggs opened up about success, staying true to himself, and passing those values down to his son. Before heading over to check that out, learn more about his incredible rise to fame.

Passion for performing

The oldest of five children, life in the Diggs household was always exciting. Diggs has said that growing up in a big family taught him the importance of teamwork and having a solid support system. With his mother being a teacher and his father a visual artist, he developed a love of learning and a passion for performing at a young age. His parents were always encouraging, particularly his mother, who played a major role in helping him pursue his dream of acting.

Although Diggs started taking dance and acting classes at five years old, he’d started considering a different path by the time he was 13. “I thought I was an athlete in junior high, but when everybody grew two feet taller than me, I switched [back] to the performing arts,” says Diggs. After graduating from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, he attended Syracuse University and earned a degree in musical theater.

Staying true to himself

After college, Diggs quickly made a name for himself on Broadway with his dynamic performances and captivating stage presence, but his journey to stardom had its challenges. He had to take on various odd jobs to survive in New York City but remained confident that he’d be successful. “I wasn’t taking acting classes or attending auditions because I just knew it would happen for me at the right time. So, I had a very relaxed attitude and just did what I wanted,” said Diggs. “I’m a simple dude, and [knew] if I stayed true to who I am, it would work out,” he added.

His breakout role came in 1996 as Benny in the original production of Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent, which earned him critical acclaim and solidified his status as a rising star. Two years later, Diggs’ life changed forever when he landed a lead role in the comedy How Stella Got Her Groove Back; this commercial and critical success earned him his first Acapulco Black Film Festival nomination for Best Actor. He followed it up with several more high-profile projects, including the romantic comedy The Best Man, the popular television series Ally McBeal, and the film adaptation of the 1975 musical Chicago.

His early predictions of success were more accurate than he could have ever imagined, and his rise to fame reminds us that anything is possible with hard work, determination, and a little luck.

Family first

From the beginning, he had a clear vision of the career he wanted to build, which always included putting his family first. “My career has never been my number one priority, and I’m happy I chose that path because it’s kept me grounded,” explained Diggs. This dedication to his family is evident in that he takes on roles that don’t require him to be away for long periods. “I have a 13-year-old son who just made the seventh grade basketball team; I’m not going to take a job in Australia even if it’s going to get me an Emmy. It’s not even a question,” he later added.

Diggs’ success came from his unique ability to combine talent, unapologetic truth, and a propensity for seeking challenges that help him continually learn, improve, and grow. “I feel it’s about connecting with who you are and your purpose; once you do that, things line up,” said Diggs. This mindset not only helped him achieve his dream of becoming an actor but also allowed him to lead a happier, more balanced life.

In 2022, he reprised his role as Harper Stewart in the six-episode series The Best Man: The Final Chapters. He explained that as an African American actor, he feels lucky to be involved with this franchise because the original movie was the first project where he identified with the characters. “I saw myself in Harper, and it feels great to be a part of that still,” said Diggs.

Recently, he starred in the fifth season of the popular show All American, making it clear that his dedication to his family, his craft, and his refusal to sacrifice his values was the right move and has only furthered his success. Whether acting on stage, television, or the big screen, his performances have been widely praised by audiences and critics, cementing his legacy as one of Hollywood’s most talented and respected actors.

If you want to know more about this remarkable actor, including what drives him, his thoughts on his earlier movies now being considered classics, and how he’s helping his son develop the confidence to follow his path, make sure to check out his episode on the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast. Be warned: Diggs discussing his incredible rise to fame may inspire you to chase your dreams.

The Talking Series is a weekly segment that delves deeper into topics discussed by guests on the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast.


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