Taye Diggs talks ‘All American,’ Black fatherhood and entanglements
The 49-year-old actor opens up about how the pandemic helped him learn more about his son and his thoughts on the Smiths' recent moment of honesty
While the rest of us are still figuring out how to make the most out of our quarantine summer, Taye Diggs has been keeping busy.
Along with giving us behind-the-scenes peeks via Instagram of All American, the 49-year-old actor, singer and dad has created a summer full of family fun at home with his son who would normally be at camp.
With summer camps closed or gone virtual, the more than six million children in the U.S. that attend them, parents are trying to recreate the experience at home.
Taye has partnered with Quaker Chewy® to help keep the summer spirit alive with a fun sweepstakes, but while he spreads summertime cheer he’s also talking about the tough stuff like Black Lives Matter with his son, Walker.
theGrio caught up the star about those conversations, plus the convos everyone is having around All American and entanglements.
theGrio: Can you tell me a bit about the mission you’re on this summer with Quaker Chewy® to help parents entertain their kids at home this summer? What you’re doing with your son this summer?
Taye Diggs: This summer is different because of everything that’s going on. We used to send our kid off to summer camp, but as you can imagine camp was canceled. So, it just made sense to partner with Quaker for what they call Camp Chewy which promotes the idea of parents getting out there with their kids and taking part in activities that recreate that camp feeling. You can go to the website and enter a sweepstakes to possibly win some cool prizes. But more importantly, it promotes parents getting out there and taking part in activities that will keep the fun in summer.
I know with my child we have been doing things that we otherwise wouldn’t. We’re playing a lot more board games, taking nature walks, playing basketball and football, but we also do this thing that my son came up with called “night swims.” My son wanted to wait till it’s pitch black to get into our little pool, and we just have these really great conversations. And that’s something that I’m very, very appreciative of.
theGrio: So, he came up with the night swim thing on his own?
TD: Yeah. Having this extra time with him I’m realizing that he’s a really bright kid. He’s got great ideas and he has a lot to say. And I love the fact that I’m getting to be on the other end of that as opposed to his camp buddies. I’m not saying that sleep away camp doesn’t have its place. It’s great for socializing, but who knows if I’ll ever see moments like these again, so I cherish them.
theGrio: Your son is 10 years old, have you spoken to him about Black Lives Matter and the current state of this country as it pertains to the Black community?
TD: One hundred percent. Obviously, these are tumultuous times. I personally try to find a silver lining in everything to kind of help me get through. And one of the positives that I can take with me and my family is the fact that these conversations are being had.
These opportunities are here, and it’s almost as if you can’t ignore them. My son’s mother (Idina Menzel) and myself, remain open and honest whenever he has questions. I want to make sure that opposed to preaching to him or telling him like it is, we instead are kind of there for security. We’re there to provide answers to his questions because the world that he’s growing up in, what he’s feeling is different than what we saw growing up. It’s very eye-opening.
theGrio: All American is a quarantine favorite on Netflix. The series follows a young Black man from a lower-income neighborhood navigating through a wealthy and predominantly white school — was there ever a time where you had to navigate duality in your life and/or career?
TD: Constantly. My mother was dead set on me having the most available to me. So, she was always looking for scholarships and entering me in programs where oftentimes I was one of the only African Americans, and oftentimes I would get made fun of because of the way that I talk because I spoke proper English. I wasn’t what was considered a stereotypical Black boy, so I have been code-switching ever since I could remember.
That was one of the main reasons why I was so attracted to the script, because I could understand what these characters on both sides were going through. And I think that it’s a story that needed to be told and one that kind of never gets old. People are constantly having to put on different hats and kind of reconfigure their perception of who they think they are, who they think they should be, and not forgetting where you come from but then also keeping your eye on the future. All of these very real situations that that young people and adults alike have had to deal with in today’s society.
theGrio: The word of the week: “Entanglement” Let’s talk about it — did you see the Red Table Talk?
TD: I haven’t, but I’ve heard. [laughs]
theGrio: But you’ve seen the memes, right?
TD: I’ve seen the memes. [laughs]
theGrio: How do you feel about the conversation that went down between Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith?
I commend Will and Jada for being as open as they are with their personal lives and views. I think in this day and age, the more different and the more honesty we have, the better. A lot of people, especially in this industry, feel like they have to act the way they think they need to act.
Especially from personal experiences, in the Black community. I love it when Black folks feel like they can be comfortable, and in front of ourselves and say what’s going down, and not be afraid to come up with a new, different way of looking at things.
I’m very impressed and proud of them. I know in my experience; I’m not used to people handling past relationships like that. I think it’s a new and kind of welcome perspective.
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