What You Didn't Know About Taye Diggs

Taye Diggs is a true triple threat, using his singing, acting, and dancing skills in the biggest Broadway shows, or even on the mega-addictive Lip Sync Battle. Now that he's set to host the Critics Choice Awards on March 7, 2021 on The CW Network, we couldn't be more excited to see the Rent star live it up on stage (via Critics Choice). That being said, it took him years to get him where he is today, and we're shocked at the facts we've learned about his life!

The actor was born Scott Leo Diggs on Jan. 2, 1971, in Newark, New Jersey, but grew up in Rochester, New York. There, he earned the nickname "Taye" from the more common "Scotty." The celeb knew his true passion from the very start, attending School of the Arts in Rochester and honing his craft from a young age (via Democrat and Chronicle). Putting in the work from middle school onward, Diggs developed a talent that would soon take him to star in Tony Award-winning plays, film, and television.

But as referenced before, the road wasn't an easy one, and you'll never believe where Diggs worked before hitting the big time. Much before his Critics Choice Awards gig this Sunday, the actor's three-decade career has taken him to all kinds of places, both in his personal and professional life. Ahead, find all the facts about Diggs that will leave you speechless.

Taye comes from an artistic family

Diggs was born to a very artistic family, so we can definitely see where he got his mega-watt talent from! His mother, Marcia Berry, was a teacher and actress (via The Sydney Morning Herald), while his biological father Andre Young is a visual artist according to The New York Times. However, as Diggs explained to the outlet, he moved with just his mother to New York when he was three or four years old. "The family was me and my mother. She wanted to get away, so she moved to Rochester, New York." For that reason, the actor never truly knew his biological father.

From there, Berry married a man named Jeffries Diggs, from who Taye adopted his last name. As he explained to the NYT, the family constantly changed neighborhoods, giving Diggs a special "open-mindedness" and a "survival skill" which later helped him in his journey to Hollywood. Although his parents were strict with the soon-to-be star, never letting him hang out with "the wrong crowd," they allowed him to attend Rochester's School of the Arts, where he learned experimental theater and Afro-Caribbean dance. As he learned the tools of the trade, as Digg recalls it, he "shone."

He once ended up in a very unexpected place

After graduating from his arts high school, Taye Diggs went off to Syracuse University to study musical theater (via Syracuse University). As sure as ever that his true passion was in musical theater, Diggs could nurture his talents in acting, singing, and dance all in one place. After receiving his BFA, the triple-threat went on to perform at the Lakes Region Summer Theatre in Meredith, New Hampshire, while also acting on stage at the New London Barn Playhouse in 1992 (via Fandom). Sharpening his craft, he would get his first important role just two years later.

Diggs' Broadway debut was in 1994 when he starred in the Tony Award-winning revival of the musical Carousel (via Playbill). However, by the next year, he took on a role that was a definite step away from his earlier work. Diggs joined the Tokyo Disneyland cabaret show Sebastian's Caribbean Carnival in 1995, working there as a dancer and singer for a year (via POPSUGAR). 

By the following year, Diggs returned to the U.S., finally getting his once-in-a-lifetime big break. He originated the role of landlord Benny in the Tony Award-winning musical Rent, becoming one of the biggest Broadway stars. From there, he met his future wife Idina Menzel, and would continue his career in musical theater starring in plays such as The Wild Party, A Soldier's Play, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, cementing his legacy.

He's now considered a TV and movie veteran

Taye Diggs is extremely well-known for his Broadway roles, showing off his singing chops every chance he gets (particularly his impressive stints on Lip Sync Battle). Even so, his television and film acting made him a household name.

The actor moved from Broadway to television in 1997, playing music producer Adrian "Sugar" Hill on Guiding Light (via SoapHub). By 1998, he made his movie debut with How Stella Got Her Groove Back, the Angela Bassett-led romantic comedy that still makes us want to head to Jamaica (via IMDb). He followed up these roles with movies like Go, The Wood, House on Haunted Hill, and cult-classic The Best Man, playing the main character.

Apart from starring in other movies like Chicago, Til Death Do Us Part, and Equilibrium alongside Christian Bale, it's clear that Diggs has become a true television icon. The actor has appeared in shows like America's Next Top Model, Ally McBeal, Punk'd, Will & Grace, Day Break, Private Practice, The West Wing, and Murder in the First throughout his decades-long career.

Diggs' appearances on Lip Sync Battle made him the first contestant to win twice, and we still can't get over his performances of Ne-Yo's "Let Me Love You" (via Yahoo Sports). As if that wasn't enough, he recently hosted the CW game show Hypnotize Me, and even voiced a cat in My Little Pony: The Movie (via IMDb). It's safe to say Diggs has a very impressive artistic range – and we're here for it!

He's even written children's books based on his son with ex-wife Idina Menzel

While the actor will always keep his passions for acting, singing and dancing close to his heart, he recently ventured out into a new artform altogether. Writing four adorable children's books titled , Chocolate Me (2015), Mixed Me! (2015), I Love You More Than... (2018), and My Friend! (2021), Diggs showed just how multi-talented he is, and his desire to make an impact.

Talking to Entertainment Weekly about his book Mixed Me!, the actor shared his inspiration behind his second book. "I wrote Mixed Me after I had my son [with ex-wife Idina Menzel], and for me, it just made sense. I've always been exposed to people of mixed race." Throughout the book, Diggs writes about difficult experiences biracial people sometimes face, saying, "being around them, you're exposed to all of the silly, or ignorant, or interesting questions they get asked." 

About his son Walker, Diggs told the outlet, "I want my son to not feel discouraged in any way, or feel any of those negative feelings, if and when people may approach him, because that's just what people do. He shouldn't have to explain himself to anyone, you know?"

Diggs is single...and looking

Diggs and Idina Menzel divorced in 2014 after 10 years of marriage in a joint, mutual statement (via Nicki Swift). However, there were rumored rifts between the couple, such as when Menzel talked to People in 2013 about how they went "through tough times like everybody else."

There were also rumors about Diggs being unfaithful, but they were never confirmed. Sources told VH1's The Gossip Table that Diggs had a "roving eye," and RadarOnline claimed that he was "acting like a bachelor" before the split.

Whatever the reason for Diggs and Menzel's divorce, the two seem to remain on good terms. Diggs talked to Drew Barrymore on The Drew Barrymore Show in January 2021 about meeting his ex-wife on the production of Rent, saying, "Even Walker's mother, Idina Menzel, it's been really great... I love the fact that I was there at the beginning." He continued, "She made history in that show... I loved sharing that with my son. Like, Daddy was there when the world first listened to her." (via Today).

Apart from gushing about his ex-wife, Diggs made sure to mention on the show that he is "single and looking," after breaking up with Selling Sunset star Amanza Smith after five years (via E! News). And when it comes time to settling down again, the star told The Sydney Morning Herald that he needs "to feel a connection" and that his true match must have "a sense of humor." Okay, taking notes!