In 2015, Oakland-born artist Daveed Diggs made his entrance in the first performance of the Broadway phenomenon "Hamilton," doing double duty as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. It was a breakout role for Diggs, who grew up doing theater, often performing in regional productions of Shakespeare and rapping in experimental poetry slams. The musical production – which Diggs received a Grammy and Tony for – took him from the anonymity of substitute teaching to being a darling of the New York theater scene. The success of "Hamilton" had quite an impact on Diggs' acting career, leading to guest appearances and co-star roles in both TV and films. He has held recurring roles on the silver screen in TV series such as "Black-ish" and "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." He also co-wrote, produced, and starred in the film "Blindspotting." In 2021, Diggs received a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award for his performance in the Disney+ live stage recording of "Hamilton," which was released in 2020. Currently, he stars in the TV adaptation of "Snowpiercer."
Before he was breaking boundaries with his experimental theater productions, Diggs was breaking records on the men's track team for Brown Univeristy. A gifted athlete, Diggs was recruited by Brown to run hurdles. In his first year, he earned the Outstanding Freshman Award for persistent improvement of his personal best time in his event: the 110-meter hurdles. As a sophomore he went even further, breaking the school's record with a time of 14.21 seconds. However, Diggs didn’t just run in college. He studied theater and was also in a campus rap group called Soul Cypher, performing for audiences within and outside the university. In 2004, Diggs graduated from Brown with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts.
It didn't take long for Brown to honor this modern-day Renaissance man. In 2017, Diggs was conferred an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts by his alma mater at its 249th commencement ceremony. He was also chosen to deliver that year's baccalaureate address. Standing in a Brown cap and gown, Diggs’ speech — which he titled “Daveed Diggs Says Some Things” — was a multilayered discussion on a wide range of topics, including fame, failure, politics, history, perseverance, and careerism. “Our world desperately needs you now,” Diggs told the graduates. “We need your new ideas because our old ones have made a big mess of things."