Nov 99 Interview: Taye Diggs

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Interview with Taye Diggs (TD) conducted by Nasser Metcalfe (NM)

As the star of The Best Man, actor Taye Diggs brings to life the character, Harper Stewart, a talented young writer on the verge of major success with his soon to be released first novel, Unfinished Business. Diggs' portrayal is layered and textured. He actually creates a character who turns out to be likeable because of, not in spite of the fact that he is flawed. This performance should prove to be a standout in the impressive body of work that this rising young actor is steadily building. Taye Diggs reveals to Nasser Metcalfe about what he hopes this role should mean for him and to us.

There was an article a couple of months back in VIBE magazine that focused on yourself, Omarr Epps, and Mekhi Phifer, discussing the struggle that young African American actors face when trying to achieve a certain level of success. This touched on the success your white counterparts enjoy in terms of "supposedly" appealing to the masses. What do you hope this film will do personally and for your career?
Well the word that is so often used and I believe so often misused, is crossover. And basically what that means is 'I hope white people like it' because if you're dealing with a film that has a large number of Black people in it, you're thinking of money. The more people who see it, the more money you make. And the more money you make, the bigger a box office draw you are. So we have not reached that point, really except for maybe Denzel [Washington], and he struggles every once in a while. Will Smith, he's pretty much on top of the world. Hollywood only lets a few of us in at a time only because audiences may not be ready to accept Black people as leading actors. There is some fear that what we do on screen isn't for that. I think that has to be dispelled - especially in this movie. There's no white person I know that can say that they haven't been through what any of these Black characters are going through. There is no reason why they should let that taint why they would come and enjoy a movie. These actors that I have named, I dare you to find a film that was a blockbuster that they opened with two other Black people in the main cast. If Denzel is doing it, he is with another white actor. If Will Smith is doing it, (except for his wife, you always have a Black wife or girlfriend), they do it by themselves. It's like they have to section us off or else it will be too much. If you have more than two [Black] actors in it, that will constitute it as being a Black film and then white people wont come to see it. They don't want to risk that. Because to be honest white people don't yet need Black people to come see their movies a lot of times. We're at a point where we as Black people could use the help. So it's quite a task that needs to be taken up. But maybe it can start with this film.


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