Taye Diggs, 48, Los Angeles
1. Your new TV series, All American, tackles issues of race, economic disparity, and sexuality.
The show handles those issues in such an organic way, issues that are so pertinent today. The stories are set in places that can be stereotyped as extreme, allowing you to look at different sides of them. It’s not just rich, bratty, white kids; it’s not just gang colors. It gives a more accurate and layered side to both.
2. You play coach Billy Baker, who’s looking to save his team with a specially recruited, underprivileged black teenager.
Yes, although I relate to Spencer, too [the teen recruit character based on NFL linebacker Spencer Paysinger]. I’ve felt like a fish out of water before: My experience as a black man who speaks a certain way, who has a certain education, who’s dated a white woman, or who’s taken a ballet class. I can speak to it from personal experience.
3. You’re a forever basketball lover. Was it tough to focus on football?
It’s great to have a job that focuses on athletics. Just the other day for work, it’s 8 p.m., I’m walking onto a brightly lit football field, there are beautiful student athletes everywhere. ... I never imagined that would be one of my random days at the office.
4. Your son Walker just turned 9. Are you encouraging him to play sports?
He’s already taken to it on his own. He’s quite gifted at basketball. It’s another dream I couldn’t have asked for -- one that makes me really happy.
5. Television actors log long hours on set. Do you still have time to pump iron?
You gotta make the time! Being surrounded by all these young, fit bodies? They give me inspiration. I lift weights, do cardio when I can, and hit the basketball courts with my son.
Both my grandfathers had high blood pressure. My mother also struggles with high blood pressure. So I do everything I can do to keep myself fit and healthy.
For me, it was very tough. I’m not embarrassed to say it. It continues to be a lesson. I had to re-evaluate my identity -- what I thought a father was, a husband was, an actor was. I had to go with those changes, even if they didn’t fit into what I thought life was supposed to be at that time.
8. Is it true your son doesn’t want you to have girlfriends? How’s he coping?
It’s true! I was grateful for his honesty. He’s so sensitive and feeling. When he said that, I knew it was coming from an honest place. For now, I’m not even thinking about [dating]. I’m just focusing on fatherhood and the new show.
9. Does getting older scare you?
I make jokes on set because I’m the oldest guy. But I’m excited that I’ve learned a few life lessons; I’m a bit wiser. The things I was chasing as a young man? It feels good to no longer worry about those things and to have other concerns. I love having a kid and how my priorities have changed.
10. Your third children’s book, I Love You More Than, was just published. What goals are you still chasing?
I’m proud of my spiritual growth. That’s a journey that never ends. And continuing to raise my son. And producing and directing -- I’ve opened myself up to those things, too.
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