Daveed Diggs on the Advice He Would Give His Younger Self

Actor Daveed Diggs

“I think I’m getting to be selective about the things I’m working on because I’m pretty confident in who I am.” – Daveed Diggs

Hamilton original Broadway cast member Daveed Diggs hasn’t let his association with the megahit musical stop him from pursuing other opportunities. And that’s good news for him — one of his most recent roles is in the movie Wonder, which has become a surprise box office hit. Diggs spoke to the Chicago Tribune about his success as an actor — and how it shouldn’t discourage performers when they don’t hit major success in their first decade of trying.

Diggs’ recent success didn’t come until he was in his thirties, which runs in contrast to many young actors assuming that success has to come early in one’s career. He shares advice he would give to his younger self:

“The advice I would give my younger self is to stop stressing so much about the timeline. Whatever this thing is that’s happened to me in the last few years—if that happened any time before that, I don’t think I would’ve been ready for it. It’s been very challenging in a lot of ways.

I think I’m getting to be selective about the things I’m working on because I’m pretty confident in who I am. I don’t get nervous about people telling me I should do things because I’m not afraid to be broke. The money is not the thing; it’s about having the life and getting to do what you love for a living. I think success is a thing you need to define carefully for yourself.

I felt relatively successful pre-Hamilton in that at least I was still making art all the time. I was on tour with my band, I was working on projects, writing scripts and teaching. I had very little money, but I felt pretty successful.”

Despite his Hamilton and other acting successes, Diggs still sees himself primarily as a rapper because he takes a musical approach to his work. He explains, “I did middle school plays probably before I wrote a rap song that I knew was a rap song, but I think everything for me follows the music. I’ve found the best way for me to approach text as an actor is to think about it rhythmically and musically rather than a strict by the book script dissection. If I can understand the rhythms of the character, it makes it easier for me to do the rest of the work.”

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