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Taye Diggs Biography


Home > Actors > D > Diggs, Taye > Biography


Birth Name: Taye Diggs
Born: 01/02/1971
Birth Place: Newark, New Jersey, USA


Born Scott Diggs in New Jersey on Jan. 2, 1972 and raised in Rochester, NY, Diggs (whose professional first name was a derivation of a childhood nickname, "Scottaye") spent his formative years helping his mother raise his four younger siblings after the death of his father. After attending high school at the Rochester School of the Arts, he majored in musical theater at Syracuse University - where he also fronted a band, Zoo Trip - and graduated in 1993. Roles in regional theater productions predated a turn on Broadway in a 1994 multi-Tony Award-winning production of "Carousel." However, the initial success did not pan out for Diggs as hoped, so he accepted a job at a musical revue at Tokyo Disneyland to pay the bills. After his return to the States, Diggs went back to auditioning for stage and television parts - one proved to be his star-marking role - that of Benny, the landlord antagonist in the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical/cultural phenomenon, "Rent." He stayed with the show for a year, during which time he became romantically involved with his castmate, actress Idina Menzel.

The worldwide acclaim generated by "Rent" allowed Diggs to explore other acting possibilities, so after a short stint in the recurring part of a slick music producer on the on the daytime soap "The Guiding Light" (CBS, 1952 - ), Diggs made a considerable splash in his debut film, 1998's "How Stella Got Her Groove Back." As Angela Bassett's handsome and much younger Jamaican lover, Diggs' innate sweetness - to say nothing of his well-built physique (displayed most impressively in a shower scene) - quickly blew female audience members away, all of whom left the theater collectively wondering, "Who WAS that fine man?" Not unexpectedly, more movie offers quickly poured in for Diggs. He gave an amusing performance as the straight man in a pair of friends in deep trouble in Las Vegas in Doug Liman's "Go" (1999), also appearing in more traditional dramatic roles in "The Best Man" (1999), which he, at one time, considered his favorite movie part; in "The Wood," playing the reluctant groom in the comedy-drama about middle-class African-American youth; and in the woeful remake of "House on Haunted Hill" (1999). In 2000, Diggs returned to the stage for an off-Broadway production of "The Wild Party," co-starring Menzel. That year, he also appeared in the action/noir cult film, "The Way of the Gun," as a security guard involved in the search for kidnapped expectant mother Juliette Lewis.

In 2001, Diggs joined the much gossiped-about cast of "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002), as lawyer Jackson Duper, who found himself in the middle of a love triangle between series regulars Lisa Nicole Carson and Lucy Liu. The following year saw Diggs in a flurry of feature films, ranging from the low-budget thriller "New Best Friend" (as a private investigator looking into the murder of a student) to a smooth romantic lead in the popular drama "Brown Sugar," and a futuristic police officer with enhanced mental powers in the ill-fated science fiction actioner "Equilibrium." Diggs was also featured as the Bandleader in the film adaptation of "Chicago" (previously, he had logged time as Billy Flynn in the stage production).

The year 2003 saw Diggs appear in two less-than-highly-regarded features, "Basic" (2003), with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, in which he portrayed a cadet who vanishes during a training exercise and "Malibu's Most Wanted," the hip-hop comedy with Jamie Kennedy, in which Diggs played a faux gangsta hired to scare Kennedy, a wanna-be rapper. He did, however, survive a typically mortifying turn as a victim on Ashton Kutcher's "Punk'd" (MTV, 2003-). The year's high point for him came when he married longtime companion Menzel at the Jamaican resort where years earlier he'd starred in "How Stella Got Her Groove Back." The pair was also seen on Broadway that year in the smash hit "Wicked," for which Menzel won the Tony Award.

Diggs landed his first lead in a television series in 2004 with "Kevin Hill" (UPN, 2004-2005). The series gave him an excellent showcase for both his dramatic skills and romantic appeal, but its mix of legal fireworks and family hominess - his title character juggled work as a lawyer with raising his ten-month-old cousin - did not translate into substantial ratings. Though admired by critics, the series did not survive its freshman season. The following year, Diggs joined most of his Broadway castmates (including Menzel) in the coolly received film version of "Rent" (2005) directed by Chris Columbus, though his considerable song-and-dance skills were not particularly utilized in the film. He was also top-billed in a New York theatrical production of "A Soldier's Story."

In 2006, Diggs returned to TV in two high-profile projects - first as Eric McCormack's boyfriend in the final season of "Will and Grace" (ABC, 1998-2006); and second, as the star of ABC's "Day Break" (2006- ). The "Groundhog Day"-like show, concerned a detective (Diggs) who is able to relive a day in which he is accused of murder in order to discover the true killer. The series made its debut in November of 2006 in the time slot afforded to "Lost" (ABC, 2004- ) while that series went on a mid-season hiatus.