Men’s Journal’s Everyday Warrior With Mike Sarraille is a podcast that inspires individuals to live more fulfilling lives by having conversations with disrupters and high performers from all walks of life. In episode 44, we spoke to actor Taye Diggs.

Best known for his roles in How Stella Got Her Groove Back and The Best Man, Diggs has also made a name for himself on Broadway, starring in popular productions of Rent and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The versatile actor sat down with host Mike Sarraille to discuss his journey and the importance of having the right mindset.

Listen to the full episode above (scroll down for the transcript) and see more from this series below.

This interview has not been edited for length or clarity.


Mike Sarraille:
And welcome back to the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior podcast. I’m your host, Mike Sarraille. We’ve got Taye Diggs today. Damn, Taye, you are even sexier in person.

Taye Diggs:
What is going on here? I’ll take that, I’ll take that differently. Coming from a macho male as yourself. I appreciate that.

Mike Sarraille:
My, wife was excited about this one. She said, Hey, can I come on? I said, no, we’re professional here. We don’t do that. <laugh>, he’s a professional. Okay, man. How’s, uh, how’s life? Everything’s, uh, you, I’m assuming you spend most of your time in New York.

Taye Diggs:
I wish, I wish. I’m in LA. I have a gig, All American, on Netflix [editor’s note: Seasons 1-4 are now available on Netflix with Season 5 currently airing on The CW]. They, they shoot in LA at Warner Brothers. So I’m in LA but I get to New York as much as possible,

Mike Sarraille:
How many seasons now for All American?

Taye Diggs:
We’re on our fifth. We’ve been lucky enough to have gone five seasons. Yeah. Still going on.

Mike Sarraille:
Your character is a macho sort of masculine character…the tough dad, tough coach.

Taye Diggs:
The coach. Coach Billy Baker played in the NFL. And, you know, he’s got his peaks and his valleys. He’s a flawed person, but he’s trying to do the best he can for himself, his family, and his team. So it’s been great up to this point. It’s been really great.

Mike Sarraille:
The flawed character. Aren’t we all, man? Do you enjoy playing a coach? Cuz I know the role, and I’m sure you had your share of coaches. Do you remember a specific mentor that gives you the inspiration for this character?

Taye Diggs:
Uh, 100%. I mean, I thought I was an athlete, you know, early in junior high. And then once everybody ended up being, you know, two feet taller than me, <laugh>, uh, then I switched to the performing arts. But, uh, but that’s one of the reasons why I was drawn so much to this character later in life. Uh, because, you know, I’ve still, sports have, have, have been, you know, a part of this who I, who I am, and basketball and tennis and soccer, and then having a son. You know, I have a, uh, a son now who’s now 13, but he is, um, a true athlete. And, uh, and I got this job right when he was coming into his own with, with basketball and football. So it kind of, uh, I feel like it was kind of a tap on the shoulder from the universe telling me that I was, uh, I was on the right track. So I was able to kind of use, you know, my, my character work as a, as a coach on All American, and, and let it kind of drip into the, the relationship that I’ve, that I’ve been, um, um, I’m having with, with my son as, as the athlete that I never could become.

Mike Sarraille:
So it, there there’s been a, a commonality for you and your son—a closer correlation?

Taye Diggs:
Oh, 100%. Yeah. When the show, uh, uh, first came out, we, we would watch every episode together and discuss it, um, uh, from a, a sport, a sports perspective, and just a, uh, a human perspective, which was really great and, and useful because, uh, you know, he was right at the age where, you know, he’s starting to ask me questions about girls and, and himself and, you know, you know, right and wrong and, and, uh, and things of, of that nature, the, the issues that were being dealt with on the show. So it was, it was perfect timing.

Mike Sarraille:
That’s, that, that is, that is awesome. You know, as you Absolutely. You look at your career, man, and as I, you know, I’ve followed you for so long, but as we do research, the amount of films and TV shows and even, you know, Broadway performances, you’ve been a part of <laugh> that, have you ever gone back and just looked at the list? It’s

Taye Diggs:
Insane. I have not. I have not. I have, and I forget. I’m, I’m old enough now. I, I forget, I forget some of the stuff that, that I’ve been in. I’ll have people, uh, you know, approach me in airports or whatnot, and I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m very grateful. But sometimes I’ll, I’ll forget some of the, the, you know, the, the projects that they, that they notice me from. So it’s a trip to have to be at the point now where I still feel young and, and kind of active. And, but, um, but you know, when you get feedback and you realize that, that you’ve been around a while, it’s an interesting feeling.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, dude, again, with, with, with the, the Rolodex of things you’ve been involved in, with the pace that you maintain, h how do you maintain some semblance of balance? Or has it just been a constant battle?

Taye Diggs:
You know what, I’ve been blessed in that, um, it’s either, for me, for me, the, the job, the career has never been number one. It’s always been, um, relationship. You know, I, um, even when I remember in college, I had a college girlfriend and, you know, if I had a test, I would choose to go over my girlfriend’s house and study for that test because I wanted to be with her. And I didn’t understand how people that were in relationships would say, oh, no, I, I can’t spend time with my girl or my dude because I have, to me, you know, the personal relationships were much more important than the career. And, you know, now I’m, I’m happy that, that I kind of chose to walk that path because it’s kept me grounded. You know, when I was in a relationship, you know, before my child, the relationship was first.

Taye Diggs:
You know, it’s, if, if a job took me away from my relationship, then I would choose those jobs, you know, uh, specifically, you know taking that into account. And then when I had a child, curtains, I’m not gonna do, he comes first. And it really, um, you know, other people would say, you know, do you feel like you’re missing out? But for me, it’s, it makes it easy. It just makes it easy. It’s not, it’s not even a, a question of balance. It’s not balanced <laugh>, it’s my family first and then career. And I think because that is what is truthfully in my heart, I don’t know, not to get too woo woo, but I feel like the universe,

Mike Sarraille:
No, no, no. Get woo man, get woo. That’s what

Taye Diggs:
We do here. The, the, the universe can sense. And, and I’ve never stopped working, ever, you know what I mean? So I’m cool, but I will never be that dude that’s like, you know, I have a 13 year old, he just made, you know, the seventh grade basketball team. I’m not about to take a job in Australia if it’s gonna get me an Emmy, or no, it’s not even a question. I’m that dude. I don’t fault the cats that do, but that’s not even a question for me. And I’m not worried because I know something else will present itself because it has up to this point. So that’s, uh, I, I feel very lucky in that I kind of, you know, halfed upon that just because, you know, relationships mean more to me than, than career.

Mike Sarraille:
Man, you, you just made me feel like less of a man in a lot of ways.

Taye Diggs:
No, no, no. But that’s, that’s just me. That, that’s my No, no, no. I, I know other people where, you know, career drives them and if it, if that’s who you are inside, then I think the universe aligns itself. Yeah. But that’s not who I was, you know what I mean? Like, you know, with my ex-wife, we used to get in arguments where I got offered this movie with Robert De Niro and it was like, to play this deep sea diver. And I was like, I don’t want to be in the water. Like, she was like, but it’s with Deni Niro. I was like, I know, but I wanna have, I’m doing, I want to have fun De Niro or not. I don’t want to like be in some dirty ass water, you know, 14 hours a day. No. And that was an argument. But, but that’s who she was.

Taye Diggs:
She was about the work. I’m about having fun. I, you know, I chose to be an actor cuz it was easy and I’m having a good time. The girls are pretty, people clap for me, you know, it’s simple. I’m a simple dude. So as long as I stay true to who I am, you know, shit works out for me. It’s when, you know, and I can tell you the points of my career when I was like, oh, should I be trying to get on the cover of Vanity Fair? Should I be with this agency? Should I be trying to be the next Will Smith whenever I, I strayed from who I actually was. You can literally see in my career and I can tell you emotionally the dips, you know what I mean? And when I kind of release that, then my shit got back on track. So, you know, it, it’s, it’s, I feel like it’s what you being able to connect with who you really are and your purpose, and once you do that, um, you know, things will, will line up accordingly.

Mike Sarraille:
That, hey, what you’ve just described is powerful man. Um,

Taye Diggs:
You know what I mean?

Mike Sarraille:
Choose your path. Follow your path. But I mean, it sounds like you’ve made some decisions where you’re like, Hey, I’m straight from my path. Yeah. And you totally reflect upon it and you learn. So by nature, you, you a highly reflective individual.

Taye Diggs:
100%. Yeah. Yeah. I’m a Capricorn and, um, and, um, you know, I I I kind of suffer from anxiety, so I’m constantly rewinding things in my head as they’re happening. So it’s a, it’s a blessing and a curse, but I think it’s more of a blessing at this state

Mike Sarraille:
That’s, I’m so happy for you, man, and especially with your son and prioritizing your son of your career. There’s, there’s just so many few people that, that do that these days. And, and, and you, when I say you make me feel like less of a man, you’re making me reflect here and think, but would you also say that maybe you grinded in your early years that has given you more of the leeway to, to decide what you’re gonna do later on in life?

Taye Diggs:
Um, if I’m being honest, I,

Mike Sarraille:
Or is it you were just having fun and letting life be like,

Taye Diggs:
Yes, yes. Anytime I was like taking classes or the grind, I enjoyed the grind, you know, and that was, that was something that really got on the nerves of my fellow students in college. And then after college when I moved to New York, you know, I, I don’t know how or why, but I just knew that it was going to happen for me at a certain time. I knew that was happening, so I wasn’t trying to, to take the next acting class. I wasn’t going on all any audition. I, I knew that it was gonna happen. So I had a very relaxed attitude and did what I wanted to do. Like, I loved dancing, so I took a bunch of dance classes, um, I loved playing sports or go to the park and play soccer and tennis. Um, and everybody else was like, why aren’t you?

Taye Diggs:
Why aren’t, aren’t you doing, why aren’t you studying with this person? And, you know, why aren’t you, you know, trying to get seen by this producer? Yeah. And I was like, I don’t, I, it’s gonna happen for me. I don’t, I’m just gonna wait. And, and I don’t know where that came from, but it, you know, I remember literally, I, I moved to New York and they said, you need a survival job. So be a waiter or a host or, so I applied to Pizzeria Uno and I was too anxious to become a waiter. Cause I didn’t think I could remember the, you know, what everybody would order. So I was like, I’ll just be a host, because I thought to myself, I’m not gonna be here long anyway. And there were two other hostesses and, uh, we, we all got the jobs and we were there and, and they, one of them said, you know, you know, who are you? What, what do you do? And I said, an actor. And I remember her scoffing, and she said, isn’t everybody, and I said, <laugh>, and I scoffed back at her and I said, I guarantee you in the ne in the next year. And when I think back, I don’t know why I said this, who I thought I was, but I said, and in the year, I promise you I’m gonna have my own TV show, be in a Broadway show or on tv. And six months later I was on Broadway.

Mike Sarraille:
No kidding.

Taye Diggs:
And I remember her coming to, to the show and be like, do you remember? And I had forgotten that I, that I had even said it. I had forgotten, you know, when I was in the store, I had forgotten that I had even said that to her. And I was like, oh, my Scott, that’s, that’s obnoxious. I’m sorry. But she was like, you said it, you said it.
And, and I didn’t even remember it, but she was like, you said that you would do this, you said you’d be on Broadway or, and it was, uh, yeah. So, um, I tried to stick to that. I don’t know why it worked, you know, now, you know, people are talking about manifesting and, and alignment and, but whatever I was on at that point, um, and it was just a pure kind of confidence and a knowing of, of what I enjoyed. Uh, and, uh, and now, you know, now that I have some, some years under my belt, I try to, I try to, to stick to that.

Mike Sarraille:
Are you trying to instill that same power of belief in your own son?

Taye Diggs:
He, no, he has it already. Kids have it already. That’s the thing, is that kids do what they want naturally then, excuse my language, they get fucked up by school or their parents and No, you need to be a doctor. You need to be a lawyer. You need to date this person or that person. So he’s, I’m just trying to stay out of the way and just whatever he, and, and let him know and make him trust how he feels. Like he’s, he’s a writer and he’s, and he, and he is a ridiculous athlete basketball. So, um, he’s short, but I don’t give a fuck. I’m like, are you gonna be in the nba? And he knows it. He knows he’s going to be in the nba. So we talk about the cards he’s gonna buy and the, you know, the, the, the charities he’s gonna promote after he’s in the mb, you know what I mean? Yeah. Um, so I just wanna do whatever I can to, to keep him on that track of, of being in alignment with what he feels he is supposed to do, you know, on this, on this earth.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. No, hey, that’s a good point, man. When you think about it, when you ask kids what they want to do when they grow up, when they’re 4, 5, 6 or seven firemen, astronaut, and, and how societal norms then creep in and sort of crush people in their dreams. But

Taye Diggs:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Hey, tey, I, you know, one, I know you’ve got, uh, something special coming up. We, this will be the, the tri, this basically caps off the trilogy of the Best Man series. Yeah,

Taye Diggs:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
And it’s coming out in the summer, man. Tell us a little about what you got going on here.

Taye Diggs:
I feel lucky, you know, um, as an actor and, and then, uh, to go a little bit deeper as an African American actor where, you know, I’m, I’m included in a franchise that has lasted this long. One, two, and three. The first two were films. Best Man one, best Man, two, uh, uh, best Man Holiday. And now to, to, you know, we’ll see if it’s actually the end, but the possible closing of this, uh, this project, this movement that, that I grew up on, you know, I was in my twenties when I started. It was when I read that first script of the Best Man, it was something I had never read before because I was able to, to actually, um, um, relate to the characters in this piece that weren’t kind of stereotypes. Yeah. I mean, I, like, I literally, I saw myself in the character Harper.

Taye Diggs:
I saw, you know, my best friend in the character merch, you know what I mean? I had a crush on the girl that, you know, the character that, that, that, that was Jordan. And, uh, and I knew I had to be a part of it. Uh, and luckily I was able to, and now we’ve, we’ve, we’ve been blessed enough to continue that story. And now, you know, we’re, we’re all, you know, parents and, and, you know, some divorcees and, and accomplished and experienced, and it just feels great to be able to still be a part of that, you know, that movement while being able to use how we have grown as, uh, as adults in this world and, and put it into these characters. So, uh, it was great to, to, to do. And now I’m excited to, to to hear, you know, uh, what people think after they, after they see it. So it’s,

Mike Sarraille:
It’s what’s gonna be interesting for a lot of people that saw it and, and could sort of, you know, use, use the films as a timeline for their own life. Yes. They’re single people now. They got kids and they’re like, oh, holy. You know, the character has evolved. I’ve evolved. It’s that, that’s gonna be interesting, man.

Taye Diggs:
Yeah, man. At first, uh, it kind of made me feel a way, because when someone said, you know, when you hear, you know, like, you know, you, you, you get it. You we’re, we’re at the gym. We’re trying to do whatever we can, you know, to stay fit. Um, I feel like, you know, I can still compete with some of these young people, but when the first time I heard someone say, I grew up on you.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah, yeah.

Taye Diggs:
That’s a major statement. Um, but it wasn’t until I took a minute, you know, and got out of myself and been like, wait, it’s not about how you feel. It’s about how this person feels. Yeah. Then I was like, oh, that’s, that’s humbling. Thank you for telling me that. That’s a great thing. Like, you know what, the, the stuff that I’ve done has meant enough for you to come to me and say, I have watched you as I have grown up. That’s, that’s, that’s an amazing, that’s an amazing blessing. So, um, that’s one of the benefits of, of, of age. I was, I was wise enough to to, to take a step back and be like, oh, this is something that, this isn’t about you and how old you feel this is about, you know, you know, what you have left and, and the influence that, that you have had on, on these younger people, which is so amazing. You know, that’s not why I got into this, you know what I mean? But, uh, but if that’s, uh, you know, one of the side effects, I’m all right with that.

Mike Sarraille:
It’s a, you know, with the reach that you have through cinema and, and Broadway, it, that’s a lot of impact on lives, man. Even if they come in, you give ’em a little bit of hope during that two hours in cinema, that, that’s huge, man. Well, tey, we finish with all our, our guests, the warriors, which, you know, your warrior within your re respect and profession, and maybe you can impart some wisdom on us. Three questions. Number one, what’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make?

Taye Diggs:
The hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.

Mike Sarraille:
And you can pass if you want to come back to it.

Taye Diggs:
No decisions for me.

Mike Sarraille:
I love it.

Taye Diggs:
I think, I think really the ma the most major decision should be easy to make. I think that’s part of it. If it’s hard, hard, if it’s hard to make, then I stay in it.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah.

Taye Diggs:
You know what I mean? If it, but, but, but if I’m making a major decision, there’s no back and forth. I know what to do.

Mike Sarraille:
I love that. I love that. Hey, what are those one to three tenants, those, those rules for Taye digs that you follow in life that, that have led to the majority of your success? You, you talked about grinding earlier, you talked about mm-hmm. <affirmative>, letting life go. What, what are those things that you hold dear? One of those three things that you look at your son and say, Hey man, if you statistically or consistently do these three things, you’re, you’re gonna live a life of purpose and, and fulfillment,

Taye Diggs:
Um, to listen to yourself, but at the same time, be open to what others have to say. And the third, um, have fun

Mike Sarraille:
<laugh>.

Taye Diggs:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Oh man. Is it amazing how, how few people focus on that third one?

Taye Diggs:
I mean, we can learn from these kids, man. He, he, he, uh, uh, I mean, it’s so cliche, but he is teaching me way more than I’m teaching him every day, you know what I mean? And, and there are times when I feel like he tells me something and I want to be the parent and say, no, you should. But what he says is making per, well, I don’t wanna do this. And I’m like, oh, okay, well then don’t <laugh>. If you don’t want to, then don’t. As opposed to, no, you should because da, da da. He’s like, I don’t want to. Well, then you don’t, well then don’t, don’t do it. And every time I follow him, it works out whenever I do what I think he should do, because that’s what I was taught or that’s what the other nev it never works out well and then it call, and then it, it causes a rift between us, you know? Yeah. But whenever I kind of honor what, what he wants, it, it always wor it always works out. So I’m, I’m, I feel, I feel blessed. I feel very lucky.

Mike Sarraille:
I think each generation gets smarter than the, uh, than next. I’m always shocked by what kids

Taye Diggs:
Know. Yeah. Yeah. Some of them. I know. Mine is <laugh>.

Mike Sarraille:
Good. Hey, last question, ma’am, before we cut out, when all is said and done, let’s say 50, 40 years from now, as you look back, what is it that you want your legacy to be? The world looks at you and says, he did this for us. What, what’s that legacy? Man?

Taye Diggs:
I don’t know.

Taye Diggs:
I don’t, I don’t care. I guess I don’t need that. I feel like it’s already, I already feel full inside, you know what I mean? Um, from this point on, because I, I, I’ll be honest, you know, b before, before, like, after like in my forties, I was very much concerned with that. Yeah. Because, you know, my baby mama has a Tony Award and she was in rent and then got a Tony in rent, and then she was in, you know, Adina Menzel an amazing performer. Yeah, yeah, yeah. An amazing mother was in, um, you know, then did, then did the, the frozen and the, the song, her song was huge. And, and then there was Frozen too. And she was a best pa and then I was like, oh, I need to catch up. Like I wanna go down in history, I wanna go down. What? Then I started comparing, which is something I think you should never do.

Mike Sarraille:
Enjoy. Yeah. Comparison is enjoyment.

Taye Diggs:
Yeah. And then, uh, and I was on that for a minute and then, then I let go of it, and once I let go of it, then it came to me. Then people started saying, oh, you’re in the classics. Oh, I grew up on you. Oh, I became an actor. Be, and then I was like, oh, okay. You don’t, I didn’t have to try. It’s happening naturally. And I’m, I’m, I’m cool, I’m cool with that. You

Mike Sarraille:
Know what I mean? Living in the, here, living in the now.

Taye Diggs:
Yeah, yeah. You know, I, I, I want the best to happen from my son, but that’s just selfish. I don’t care what anybody else thinks. I just want him to get what he wants cuz he’s my UpSpring. And

Mike Sarraille:
That’s your boy man. Love

Taye Diggs:
Him. Exactly. <laugh>. Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, dude, I, I can’t thank you enough for your time. We know you’re extremely busy. One last time. Where can people catch, uh, the Best Man final chapters? When is that coming out?

Taye Diggs:
Peacock? Uh, the 22nd. December 22nd on Peacock. Yes. And that is when it premieres Ding it, watch it, tell your people. Yeah. And, uh, yeah, we’ll see, uh, we’ll see if we can give you more after that.

Mike Sarraille:
Perfect. Tey. I, I do appreciate it. We’ll drop all the links for that. We’ll direct people that way. Again, congrats on all the success. Thank

Taye Diggs:
You, my man,

Mike Sarraille:
On finding happiness, man. Thank you. Seem, thank you. You’re intent. So

Taye Diggs:
I appreciate it. I’m, I’m trying you, you make me feel more masculine just talking to you. So thank you, <laugh>.

Mike Sarraille:
Did you hear that okay? Yeah, she, she heard it. You, you just got me. Uh, uh, I’m gonna have a good night. No. Hey, thanks brother, and I appreciate it. Hey, for all the listeners, thanks for joining another episode of the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior podcast. Again with Taye Diggs. We’ll catch you later guys.

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