Daveed Daniele Diggs is an American actor, rapper, and vocalist. He is best known as one part of the American experimental hip hop band called ‘Clipping’ and also for portraying Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in the sung- and rapped-through musical ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’ that won him a Tony Award and a Grammy Award. Apart from ‘Clipping’, Diggs has also remained member of other music groups namely ‘True Neutral Crew’ and ‘Freestyle Love Supreme’. His solo musical pursuit saw him coming up with the album ‘Small Things to a Giant’. A graduate in theatres from ‘Brown University’, this ace rapper and musician has also thrived as an actor working in theatres, films and television. He started his acting pursuits with stage performing in a number of experimental theatrical productions and then went on to appear in many off-Broadway and Broadway productions, particularly in Hamilton that brought him both awards and acclaim. His screen performances include films like ‘Wonder’ and ‘Ferdinand’ (voice) and TV series like ‘The Get Down’ and ‘Black-ish’. He can be seen playing Layton Well in the upcoming TV series ‘Snowpiercer’.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on January 24, 1982, in Oakland, California, US. According to him, his Jewish mother and African-American father named him Daveed inspired by the word ‘David’ that in Hebrew means ‘beloved’. Spelling of his name was however changed a bit as per his father’s likings with ‘i’ in ‘David’ being replaced by double ‘e’. Talking about different ethnic/racial identities of his parents and associating these with his own identity Diggs once said “The cultures never seemed separate—I had a lot of mixed friends. When I was young, I identified with being Jewish, but I embraced my dad’s side too”.
He attended ‘Berkeley High School’ in Berkeley, California. He is a gifted athlete and his track skills led him to get recruited in the sports team at ‘Brown University’ called ‘Brown Bears’. He excelled in the sport while attending the university and as a matter of fact finished a 110 meters hurdles event in 14.21 seconds as a sophomore thus setting a new school record of ‘Brown Bears’ in the event. He graduated from the university obtaining a bachelor's degree in theatre arts in 2004.
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This multitalented showbiz personality stepped into the world of acting with stage and initially featured in many experimental theatrical productions. Among these the most notable one was the choreopoem, ‘Word Becomes Flesh’ by Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Moving on he performed in many stage productions including ‘Temptation’ (2005), ‘The Tempest’ (2006), ‘Troilus and Cressida’ (2008) and ‘A Behanding in Spokane’ (2012) among others. However the one play that rose him to prominence earning him fame and popularity was the sung-and rapped-through musical ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’ music, lyrics and book of which was contributed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The musical that debuted Off-Broadway in February 2015, at The Public Theater, and later on Broadway in August 2015 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre won Diggs several awards including ‘Best Featured Actor in a Musical’ award at the 70th Annual Tony Awards and the ‘Best Musical Theater Album’ award at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards both in 2016.
He has also featured in several television productions including in series ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ (2015–2016), ‘The Get Down’ (2016–2017), ‘Black-ish’ (2016–2017) and ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ (2017); and television film ‘Tour de Pharmacy’ (2017). Other acting pursuits of Diggs include appearing in short films ‘Rock Hard: The Rise and Fall of Sexual Detergent’ (2010) and ‘Yoga Boner’ (2012); in feature film ‘Wonder’ (2017); in web series ‘Hobbes and Me’ (2014); and giving voiceover as Dos in the 3D computer-animated comedy-drama film ‘Ferdinand’ (2017). He is also an executive producer, composer and guest star of the American sitcom television series ‘The Mayor’ that premiered on ABC on October 3, 2017.
He can be seen playing Layton Well in the upcoming series ‘Snowpiercer’ (2018) production of which began in September 2017.
Diggs joined the American experimental hip hop group ‘clipping’ in 2010 that was founded the year before by Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson. Diggs started to pen down his raps over their compositions and on February 5, 2013 the group self-released ‘Midcity’, their debut mixtape which was well received. After five months they signed with ‘Sub Pop’ and released their first studio album ‘CLPPNG’ through the record label on June 10, 2014. He has remained vocalist and writer of the group that has over the years expanded its discography that includes EPs ‘dba118’ (2012) and ‘Wriggle (EP)’ (2016); album ‘Splendor & Misery’ (2016); remix albums ‘DREAM REMX’ (2016) and ‘REMXNG’ (2016)’; apart from several singles and remixes. While working with ‘clipping’ he collaborated with American writer, recording artist, performance poet, playwright and educator Rafael Casal and released a duo album called ‘The BAY BOY Mixtape’ in 2010.
Diggs also endeavoured as a solo artist that saw him release his debut solo rap album, ‘Small Things to a Giant’ on January 2, 2012. The album that included 11 rap songs were written by him collaborating with others like Rafael Casal , Radproductionz and Gunjan Patel. He is also member of two other groups - the freestyle rap group ‘Freestyle Love Supreme’ that has Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail as its members; and ‘True Neutral Crew’, members of which include Brian Kinsman, Signor Benedick the Moor and Margot Padilla. The 2016 American 3D computer-animated comedy film ‘Zootopia’ that emerged as a blockbuster hit at box-office included a rap number written and performed by Diggs. Tracks of other artists like Rafael Casal and George Watsky among others has also featured his rapping.
There is not much information available on romantic association of this ace rapper; however according to some sources he was dating actress Jalene Goodwin. Speculations do the rounds that the two are probably having some issues as Diggs has lately refrained himself from sharing pictures with her on Instagram.
He was conferred an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by his alma mater, ‘Brown University’ at the 249th commencement ceremony of the university on May 28, 2017.