Give Taye Diggs Another Rom-Com To Star In, You Cowards

Photo: Jillian Clark via Getty Images.
Taye Diggs has been fine my whole life. Some of my earliest pop culture memories include crushing on Diggs in How Stella Got Her Groove Back. And Rent. And The Best Man. And Brown Sugar. I could go on. Early on, Diggs carved out an indelible space on stage and screen as a charismatic romantic leading man, creating a generation of people who (like me) would follow him anywhere. From playing an immature lover boy (Winston in Stella), to an ambitious friend-turned-lover (Dre In Brown Sugar), to a confused novelist who uses love as inspiration (Harper in The Best Man franchise), Diggs is no stranger to bringing love stories to life through characters that have one thing in common: an innate magnetism you can’t help but root for (yes, even Harper). That irresistible personality is why Diggs has had a longevity in Hollywood that most actors only dream of. Whether he’s playing a supportive father figure on All American (RIP Coach Baker), or leaving us laughing out loud at his ridiculous TikToks, Diggs has managed to stay booked, busy, and relevant for over three decades in this business. Part of my theory as to why (aside from his talent — and did I mention that he’s fine?) is the power of love stories. There’s a special place reserved in all of our hearts for those formative crushes that set the standard for all future objects of our affection and relationships moving forward. And just like his characters, Diggs is an unabashed lover of love.
“I could do romantic comedies until the day I die,” Diggs says over Zoom, looking, well, fine as hell. “I love love… I will never get sick of them.” His next project isn’t a rom-com, but it’s close enough. Diggs' narrates the Sony Music podcast You Had Me at Hello, where real-life people tell their own love stories in their own words, and the meet-cutes and happy endings could be ripped from the pages of a Hollywood script. As the industry continues to reel from the just-concluded writers’ strike and ongoing actors’ strike (which Diggs is in full support of and was careful not to talk about any struck work during our conversation), Diggs is intentional about pouring joy and positivity into his work. Here, he talks about “stressing” over texting in dating, “figuring out” his current relationship status (including where he stands with Apryl Jones), and that viral scene from Brown Sugar
Unbothered: Hello, Taye Diggs, my first crush. How are you? 
Taye Diggs: [laughs] That always embarrasses me a bit. I’m very well.
Why? You probably get that all the time. 
TD: Well, you're attractive, so it's a little bit different
You just made my day. I’m keeping this in the story so there’s a record of it. [laughs] I'm so excited about this podcast. It has this really beautiful premise. Tell me why you wanted to be involved. 
TD:  I love love. I love romantic comedies. I love the beginning of relationships. It hits me differently. And right now, during these very weird times, listening to these stories, I was inspired, and it literally changed the course of my day. Being a part of this was something that I thought I needed. Every time I would go into record, it put me in a really great mood. I come from the world of acting and screenplays, but these stories are real people, real situations, and some of them melted me.
Which one resonated with you the most? 
TD: I’m not supposed to give anything away, [but] there are stories of forbidden love. There are stories of people who met in grade school that reconnect in their fifties. There's a story about two male penguins, which is very interesting. I'm enjoying doing it. And while I was reading, I had to take breaks because I was laughing and, like, literally crying during some of these stories. It's really great. I've never done anything like this before.
You mentioned that you love rom-coms. You’ve played so many romantic leads in the past, and you’ve told love stories through these characters. Which character do you look back on and think, “I would want a love like that?” Dre in Brown Sugar? Harper in The Best Man
TD: That’s hard. Maybe Harper. I related very well with Harper. 

I could do romantic comedies until the day I die. I will never get sick of them.

taye diggs
Harper has some haters. I'm not one of them, but he is a controversial character. 
TD: That's what I loved about him: he's a real human being, and he has a lot of flaws. So that was very easy to play because I could relate. I could relate because he is a real, real person. 
There are a lot of grand gestures and romantic moments that you talk about in these stories. What's the most romantic thing you have ever done in real life?
TD: Hmm. You’re coming for me with these tough questions [laughs]. Maybe a trip to Paris. I can't tell what's more impressive because I like to write. That's what means the most to me. But then there are also grand gestures like Paris. I like to buy art. Of those options that I gave you, what speaks the most to you?
Well, I’m a writer, and words of affirmation is my love language. So I would say writing. Do you write love letters? Is that what you mean when you say you write?
TD: Poetry. 
Wow. Do you have an example? Just give me two bars. 
TD: Ah, it's all on my phone. Next time! 
Well, I have another hard question for you. The podcast is called You Had me at Hello. So I want to know what you think is the best opening line. What is the “you had me at hello” moment that people should be striving for?
TD: [laughs] I don't personally operate like that — I go off of energy. So in all of these stories, there's never a predictable opening line. It's very organic and real. And that's what lends itself to the rest of the story, because it's ridiculous. People would think that we made up some of these stories. That's what was so, so fun about narrating. 
The reality sometimes is better than anything anyone could script.
TD: 100%, especially with this podcast specifically. I read a lot of scripts, and these real stories were so far beyond. It was really fun. 
In the episode “Always A Bridesmaid,” Lori talks about what’s missing from the dating world now. What do you think is missing from romance and dating with apps and all the tech we have today? 
TD: Everyone is in such a rush to do everything. And all of these apps are so “convenient.” I miss the days when you had no choice but to wait for someone to call you back on the telephone or return an email. Everything is so instant. There was this young lady that I was speaking to today, and I felt just the pressure of making sure I got back to her on time so she wouldn't think that I was, you know, ignoring her. It was like an hour, but, like, I found myself stressing and just caught up in the anxiety of what she might think If I appeared to be this or that. I miss the days when that didn’t exist and you had to wait for a literal phone call. 
I would argue that it's always been a game of when you should get back to somebody, right? Like it used to be that you had to wait three days to call someone back. 
TD: Well, for me, three days is way more natural than like stressing [about responding] in the next 15 minutes.
Photo: JC Olivera/Getty Images.
You brought up that you were texting someone today, and the internet is very interested in your personal love life. You’re promoting a podcast about people's love lives, so I'm sure you're going to get this question a lot: what’s your current relationship status?
TD: [long pause] I'm trying to figure everything out. That's what I'll say. I'm trying to figure everything out. 
There is somebody that people think that you may or may not be with: Apryl Jones. So are you and Apryl together?
TD: We both decided that we would keep that portion of our private lives private.
I love following you on TikTok and Instagram. Sometimes, I’m like “oh, there goes Taye again!” The content is absurd and hilarious. How do you come up with some of this stuff and why share so much on social media? 
TD: For me, I use it as a release. I wish that I could give you a more interesting and mysterious answer, but I'll have a thought, and the thought will make me laugh and think, Oh, let me post it. It is that simple. And then I'll make stuff up as I go along. So it's a release. Oftentimes, I'll forget that thousands of people watch it because I like recording and watching it back, laughing at myself, releasing it, and moving on. So it's great. hat’s one of the elements of social media that I really enjoy. 
There’s a clip of you that goes viral every so often that I’m obsessed with from Brown Sugar, my all-time favorite rom-com. It’s of your character Dre saying, “We finna celebrate. What? My divorce!” How much of that scene was ad-libbed? And why do you think it’s still resonating with audiences? 
TD: Most of that scene was all improv. I really give it up to [director] Rick Famuyiwa who gave us the room to just explore. Nicole [Ari Parker] and I got on that train, and we just rode it. And it was so, so much fun because it's really hard to find actors that are comfortable with improvisation and kind of letting loose. That was the thing where it worked perfectly. It's one of my favorite scenes that I've ever done, ever, ever. I love that movie. 

I’m still figuring it all out. I'm in my fifties…so it's tough. What I remind myself to do is to just relax, take time, and continuously check in with yourself. And be honest. 

taye diggs on dating
I would assume you are swatting away rom-com scripts. Would you go back to that genre? And what do you love about it? 
TD: It's my favorite. As I said before, I love the whole idea of romance. I love the fact that there's always room for comedy. And I love the through line. It just speaks to me. I could do romantic comedies until the day I die. I will never get sick of them. I just got off a show called All American, so I’m seeing what's out there. I miss and love comedy, so I'm going to focus on that for whatever the next project is. 
In the podcast, you seem like an all-knowing entity about love and romance. What’s your biggest piece of dating advice? 
TD: As I said before, I’m still figuring it all out. I'm in my fifties, and [there’s] the dating apps, and the internet, and all these platforms. So it's tough. What I remind myself to do is to just relax, take time, and continuously check in with yourself. And be honest. 
The SAG-AFTRA strike is still going. There’s been a lot of misinformation out there about the strike. What do you want people to know about it and how it’s impacting actors? 
TD: I like to keep a positive outlook regardless of the negativity that is there. That's what helps me get through. So I don't know what works for other people, but that's what works for me. I will deliberately try to end on a positive note so that I can go throughout my day and not be, you know, bogged down with the negativity because there's a lot of it out there.
Sending support to you and your union, and hopefully it gets resolved soon.
TD: It will. It always does. It always does. 
You Had Me At Hello is available on all major podcast platforms. 
This interview has been edited for clarity. 

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