When Taye Diggs looks back, he can pinpoint the moment his career started to take off. “I was doing Rent first, then I got Guiding Light, and then I thought I had made it because I was working in the day and rushing off to half-hour [call] in the evening,” he says with that mega-watt grin. “And then I got [How] Stella [Got Her Groove Back], my first movie. And that’s when it all began.”
Since then, Diggs has seamlessly taken over as some of Broadway’s most desirable leading men, from Fiyero in Wicked to Billy Flynn in Chicago to Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. But it seems no coincidence that the show that launched his career centered on 20-something artists finding their identity, his most recent Main Stem outing zeroed in on gender and identity, and now he makes his directorial debut with Keenan Scott II’s new work Thoughts of a Colored Man on a Day When the Sun Set Too Early. Part movement, part music, part poetry, the play highlights “perspectives from different kind of black men who are from all different walks of life,” says Diggs. “It makes perfect sense because everything that we’ve talked about on this show—I personally was dealing with all of [those questions of identity] and still am to this day.”
The show, featuring music by Madison McFerrin and choreography by Jenny Parsinen, is still in developmental stages and Diggs presented a reading for alumni of Syracuse University. Presenting the work in connection with Syracuse was another full circle connection for Diggs. “I grew socially at Syracuse. There were a lot of other people that looked like me, spoke like me, behaved like me, which I was not used to,” Diggs continues, “so it was a place where I felt comfortable, accepted, and was allowed to grow.”
With this piece about black men fighting stereotypes and openly discussing love, race, education, history and more, Diggs continues to push himself to expand and to claim his place as a voice in the arts. “When I was coming up, you were either a stage actor, or a TV actor, or a movie actor, or a TV host, or a game show host, or a singer. Everyone is doing everything now and I think it’s great,” he says. “I’m learning from them.”
See Taye Diggs Honored by Syracuse University As He Makes His Directorial Debut With Thoughts of a Colored Man
Ruthie Fierberg is the Senior Features Editor of Playbill covering all things theatre and co-hosting the Opening Night Red Carpet livestreams on Playbill's Facebook. Follow her on Twitter @RuthiesATrain, on Instagram @ruthiefierceberg, or via her website.