Black Future Month // 2-26-11 // Daveed Diggs, Everything
Posted on February 26, 2011
While gathering the media for this post I realized just how long overdue it is. Sometimes, as I write myself into a tizzy, I forget some of the basics. I’ve written about folks from all over my world. Grade School best friends, Grad School crushes, folks I’ve never even met. I don’t know why it took me so long to get to writing about Daveed Diggs. He’s a fellow Getback member, he acted a lead role in this play I wrote, I’ve known him since High School, we moved in the same circles in New York. He lives one block from my family in West Oakland. I spend holidays with him. And the big deal holidays too, like Meatfest, something that his family invented. In any case, clearly, glaringly obviously, in fact, Daveed Diggs is the epitome of #blackfuture.
Okay, so what does Diggs do? Shorter to create a list of what he doesn’t do. And in the words of Cee-Lo Green, the only thing Diggs don’t do is fk around. I’m fairly certain he still holds the Berkeley HS record for his 14.23 time in 100HH. That record’s stood for 11 years, so no wonder Brown University gave him a ride while he ran for them. True to contrarian form, he used that scholarship to milk the Brown Theater Department for all it was worth. He moved back to the Bay and created quite the name for himself in our scene, racking up credits and rave reviews for his performances in shows like Six Degrees of Separation, The Tempest, Troilus and Cressida and most recently Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s revival of Word Becomes Flesh. And that’s just where his list of theater credits begins. He may be the only emcee I know actually.making ends meet with a flourishing career in the theater arts. Can’t wait for that bio pic, hunh, Eff Fifty?
Oh, and jeez, I almost forgot about his time spent bridging the music with the stage work. When he’s on the West Coast, he’s a key member of musical-improv-freestyle squad, The Freeze. When he’s on the East Coast, he rocks with a group called Freestyle Love Supreme — oft joined by Tony winning leading man, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Here’s a promo clip of him doing his thing as Paul in SF Playhouse’s production of Jesus Hopped the A Train…:
The film quality’s not outstanding, but the performance is. Always. If you’re in the Bay Area between 3/3 and 3/27, I highly encourage you to see Daveed in his newest role as Lorraine Hansberry Theater takes on Fabulation. Diggs will be joined by a stellar cast, including local titan of theater Margo Hall. Click here for more info and tickets.
This next video clip made me stop what I was thinking, text Diggs that he’s a genius, and watch it all over again.
If I’m being honest, and forthright, and giving props where they are due, I owe my literary lifestyle to Daveed. It was this kind of verbal prowess I first witnessed in High School, and made me want to be a poet. Real spit.
Here’s a bit of Diggs killing it on Thizzler.
Though I used a bit of this analogy at the start of the month when I was profiling photographer Nican Robinson, Diggs is truly Robesonian. For those of you not up on the legacy, athleticism, politics and reach of impact of Mr. Paul Robeson, here’s a taste. This is an interview from 1943 as Robeson took on the role of Othello — and was the first African American to play the lead. You know I likes it cause he spends so much time talking about phonology and pronunciation. That linguistic fervor gets me errytime.
Thickwit celebrates the lasting impact of Robeson’s varied career on art and politic. We also celebrate Daveed Diggs, the #blackfuture of everything.