Daveed Diggs, 38
Rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, New York
- Your TV series Snowpiercer premiered on TNT on May 31. Tell us about your character and what we can expect.
The show is set in a post-apocalyptic world after a global freeze, with the remainder of humanity on a train constantly circling the globe. What is on the train is all that is left in the world. First class, the front of the train, is incredibly opulent, while the tail is essentially barracks. The lead character wants something better for his people in the tail, and wants the system to be changed.
- You’ve said that for a while prior to booking Hamilton [Diggs played dual roles, the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, in the smash Broadway musical], you were technically homeless, couch surfing, and even sleeping on subway trains sometimes. What kept you optimistic and moving forward?
It’s interesting how that story got focused on for a while. But I was like 22 or 23 and we were all doing that. Being poor wasn’t anything, I was used to that. I was young and in New York and scraping pennies together with all my creative friends. I don’t remember being cold and like, “There are wolves chasing me.”
- When your 2018 film Blindspotting was coming out, you talked about getting pulled over by police 36 times in the course of 3 years, and compared going through that to a kind of PTSD. How does that affect you?
It just is. It’s unfortunate, and it’s not normal, but every black person I know has that same thing. It is demoralizing. The more you become aware that there is a difference in value judgment placed on your life versus somebody else’s life for no reason, you just have to live differently.
- Tell us about your new animated film, Pixar’s fantasy comedy Soul, due out in June.
I love films like this that don’t treat children as incapable of understanding very adult ideas. They just need them to be presented in a way that’s digestible. That allows those of us who are older to be in a conversation with children in a way we couldn’t before.
- With so many projects going on, how do you find the time to work out? What’s your typical routine?
I like weights and I like calisthenics and plyometric stuff. I usually either work it in first thing in the morning or last thing at night. I grew up running track and was used to having someone design a workout plan for me, so I also like using workout apps.
- What’s your go-to comfort food?
Most of what I eat is comfort food! I love a good pizza or a good burger. I’m a plain cheese pizza purist. I’ll go pepperoni sometimes, maybe do one of each, if I’m getting a slice in New York. New York is pizza, L.A. is for burgers.
- What is your secret health vice?
It’s probably my diet. I still eat like a teenager most of the time. What’s also probably really destructive is that when I’m working out I don’t warm up properly, and when you get older that becomes more necessary.
- Who’s your health role model?
My dad has always been pretty healthy. He’s in great shape. He was into juicing in the 1980s, before people were doing it. He’d make me these concoctions with wheatgrass juice from the health food store.
- What disease or condition would you most like to see eradicated in your lifetime?
Probably poverty. That would end up getting rid of a lot of other ones.
- What do you do when you have a day just to yourself?
I really like doing nothing. That’s where the ideas come from. I’m very good at relaxing. It’s a special skill.
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