Daveed Diggs: 6 Things You Might Not Know About The Hamilton Star

Daveed Diggs in Hamilton

Because the composer of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, was already quite well known for his Tony-winning musical In the Heights, the historical lesson in rhyme’s breakout star is, undoubtedly, Daveed Diggs. Himself a Tony and Grammy-winner for his dual roles as Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette, the actor has since garnered a reputation that is worth taking a lesson in.

The 38-year-old native of Oakland, California, has gone from a career in substitute teaching to playing a teacher in the 2017 drama Wonder, from pain a rebel spy in the animated Star Wars: Resistance to a rebellious former detective in the dystopian series Snowpiercer, and lending his voice to Pixar’s Soul as well as Sebastian in Disney’s upcoming live action update of The Little Mermaid. In addition to acting, Daveed Diggs also made his writing debut co-creating Blindspotting and has a career that dates back long before his star-making turn on Broadway.

Care to hear all about what you missed in the life of Daveed Diggs? Here are six intriguing facts about the enduringly popular super-fast rapper and living Broadway legend.

Daveed Diggs takes a big leap performing Hamilton

Daveed Diggs Was A Record-Breaking Track Star In College

A dazzling performance with the rest of the cast of Hamilton at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards saw Daveed Diggs exhibiting his astonishing physicality by literally leaping off the stage, a skill he attributed, while having a talk with Boston.com, to his experience while attending Brown University. That is not a reference to his degree in theatre arts, but to his athletic career as one of the Ivy League school's most accomplished track runners, breaking the Rhode Island college's all-time record at 110-meter hurdles in 14.21 seconds during his sophomore year. It seems to have been fate that Lin-Manuel Miranda would envision Diggs' role as French aristocrat Marquis de Lafayette as a man of acrobatic talent.

Daveed Diggs performs with clipping. on Conan

Daveed Diggs Has Been Rapping Since Long Before Hamilton

While his talent for dropping sick, high-speed rhymes did not make him a mainstream sensation until the Broadway debut of Hamilton, rapping has been Daveed Diggs' specialty since high school. It became more of a professional gig when he and his longtime friend Rafael Casal collaborated on a mixtape released in 2010 before joining the experimental hip-hop group clipping. as their vocalist soon after. Diggs has even released his own solo work and has contributed to the soundtracks for various film and TV projects, including the 2016 animated Disney hit Zootopia and the Netflix original series The Get Down.

Daveed Diggs in The Get Down

Daveed Diggs’ Vocals Were Dubbed By Nas In The Get Down

Speaking of the period piece tracing the roots of hip-hop, when The Get Down's narrator, Daveed Diggs, makes his official appearance as the adult Ezekiel Figuero (otherwise known as "Books" and played as a teen by Justice Smith) you might have noticed that his voice is distinctly different from its natural sound. That is because his raps are dubbed over with the vocals of Nas, the legendary, Grammy-nominated artist who also serves as executive producer on the series co-created by Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann.

Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal in Blindspotting

The Concept For Blindspotting Came From Daveed Diggs' Poetry Collaborations With Rafael Casal

In Blindspotting, Daveed Diggs plays a man whose nearly ended parole is threatened by tragic circumstances and the problematic actions of his best friend (Rafael Casal). The 2018 comedy-drama is rich in themes of racial tension, gentrification, and other deeply pressing topics for its time, which makes the realization that Diggs and Casal, known best for his spoken word performances, had been working on the screenplay for the better part of a decade all the more surprising.

The real-life friends, pals since they met at Berkeley High School, spoke to Rolling Stone about how the development came from an idea to translate their poetic collaborations into a feature film offering an honest depiction of their hometown of Oakland, only to see their vision become all the more relevant by the time the critically acclaimed story was realized.

MC Hammer in the video for "U Can't Touch This"

Daveed Diggs Met His Childhood Idol, MC Hammer, At A Hamilton Performance

In another interview for Rolling Stone, this time a video about "first times," Daveed Diggs cites MC Hammer as one of his greatest influences as a child, as the Grammy-winning mastermind behind "U Can't Touch This" and the most striking fashion sense of the 1990s was one to prove that an Oakland like himself could hit the big time. He even mentions occasionally spotting the man himself walking down his home street as he was growing up, despite having gone "international" by then. He was finally able to call his hero a friend after Hammer came to see a performance of Hamilton on Broadway, which left Diggs "maybe the most starstruck I have ever been, actually," until texting each other became a regular occurrence between the two artists.

Daveed Diggs on Snowpiercer

Researching Chicago Helped Daveed Diggs Develop His Performance In Snowpiercer

For his lead TV role, Daveed Diggs stars in Snowpiercer, a series inspired by the 2014 film of the same name from director Bong Joon-ho in which a global cataclysmic snowstorm forces the rest of humanity's sole survivors to develop a class system on the titular self-sustaining bullet train. An interview with the actor for the Los Angeles Times reports that, while developing his performance on the TNT original, instead of looking into visions of dystopia and Orwellian concepts, he set his sight on the Windy City. "Most of my research involved trying to feel a certain Chicago-ness," Diggs said about his Illinois-native character, former homicide detective Andre Layton, adding that he wanted to achieve "a somewhat colder-than-me way of living and zero in on the qualities a good detective would have."

Be sure to check back for additional information and updates on the Hamilton star, other members of the stage sensation’s brilliant cast, and more inside looks into the lives of your favorite celebrities here on CinemaBlend.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.