Daveed Diggs Biography

Screenwriter, Actor, Rapper, Theater Actor (1982–)
Daveed Diggs is an American singer and actor best known for playing the Tony and Grammy-winnings roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the 2015-2016 Broadway production of 'Hamilton.'

Who Is Daveed Diggs?

Born in 1982 in Oakland, California, Daveed Diggs is a singer, rapper and actor who is best known for playing the original roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the 2015-2016 Broadway production of Hamilton. In 2016 Diggs won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical and a Grammy for his contribution to the cast album. Outside of Hamilton, Diggs is part of the experimental L.A. hip-hop/rap group Clipping and also wrote a rap number for the animation Zootopia (2016). Diggs has appeared on television shows such as Black-ish and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and has recently been involved in a variety of film projects. 

Daveed Diggs Photo

Daveed Diggs visits SiriusXM Studios on July 19, 2018 in New York City.

Playing 'Hamilton's' Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson 

As a longtime student of experimental theatre, Diggs performed in regional Shakespearean productions in his younger years and toured with Marc Bamuthi Joseph's production of Word Becomes Flesh.

After reading for Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton, he was chosen to play Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in both the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions, which began in 2015. 

“I think Jefferson’s the more recognizable character, he has more to do but also people like to choose favorites,” Diggs told Time about his role in the musical, which is based off of Ron Chernow’s 2004 Alexander Hamilton biography. “There’s a Team Lafayette and a Team Jefferson.”

Diggs added: “It’s tricky with Jefferson because there are so many things about him that I disagree with. The way that we made him function in the show is to make him incredibly charismatic.”

Diggs not only won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical and a Grammy for the cast album, but he also had the opportunity to perform some of the show's songs for the Obamas at the White House before retiring his roles in July 2016.

Movies and TV Shows

In 2016 Diggs starred in Baz Lurhmann's Neflix musical drama The Get Down as Adult Ezekiel Figuero. That same year he won a recurring role in ABC's Black-ish as Johan Johnson — the entitled younger brother to Tracee Ellis Ross' character Rainbow — who is the antithesis of Dre, played by Anthony Anderson. Diggs also found time to tap into his rap skills, producing "Parlez-Vous Rap" for the animated flick Zooptopia. 

2017 was an even busier year for Diggs. He starred in Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as well as the HBO mockumentary Tour de Pharmacy, opposite Andy Samberg and Orlando Bloom. He also served as executive producer for the ABC sitcom The Mayor, but the show lasted for only one season. 

On the big screen he took on a dramatic role in Wonder (2017), playing Mr. Browne, the school teacher of a young child with a facial abnormality who gets bullied at school, co-starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson.

"At its core, the film is about the bravery that it takes to just show up and be yourself," Diggs told RogerEbert.com. "That’s why I got so emotional when I watched it because it immediately transports you back to when you were a kid." 

Turning to his own material, Diggs worked behind and in front of the camera in 2018's Blindspotting, a film about a parolee from Oakland, California, who's in the last days of completing his sentence only to become a witness to a crime that jeopardizes his closest friendship. Collaborating with his childhood friend Rafael Casal, who also stars in the film with Diggs, the film is a commentary on gentrification, racism and income inequality.

In an interview with IndieWire, Diggs addresses the big question that his film elicits: “The real question is, how do we allow cities to develop and progress and change and bring in new business and continue to gain income without this sort of systematic paving over of culture, and an eradication, and like a very violent removal of the people who made the city attractive to being with?” 

Music Career

In 2010 Diggs became the third and final member of the L.A.-based hip-hop/rap group Clipping, which also includes members William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes. The trio released their first album, CLPPNG, in 2014, along with a subsequent tour, and a sophomore album, Splendor & Misery, in 2016.

Diggs also collaborates with other music groups including True Neutral Crew, The Getback, and Lin-Manuel Miranda's rap group, Freestyle Love Supreme (or FLS).

Early Life

Daveed Diggs was born on January 24, 1982 in Oakland, California, to a Jewish mother and African-American father. He grew up in a mixed-race environment and easily embraced his diverse cultural identity.

After graduating from Berkeley High School, Diggs went onto Brown University, excelling as a track athlete, while at the same time graduating with a theatre arts degree in 2004. 

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