Oakland, California native Daveed Diggs is a newcomer to the Broadway stage, playing both Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the smash hit Hamilton. Though this is his debut in the big leagues, Brown University alum Diggs, who broke records for his stellar track skills, ended up with a degree in theater. Now Daveed Diggs is breaking records in a new way with a phenomenal ensemble cast in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton, which is the Tony Awards’ most-nominated musical of all time, with sixteen total. Having already scooped up a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, the stars are shining bright for Daveed and his castmates, come June 12. New York City Monthly spoke with Diggs (who is also a rapper) about his pre-show rituals, who he thinks should be honored on U.S. currency besides “Hamilton” and mentioned a family connection to another current show that may surprise readers…
What was the last meal you had before opening night?
I’m 90% percent certain I got pizza from across the street from the theater. That seems like before most shows.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
At this point my pre-show ritual is hoping I get there in time. I have this really fancy roller unit that Oakie [Okieriete Onaodowan] actually got for me that is like a c-clamp with Rollerblade wheels that I sort of roll out the muscles in my legs, which has greatly improved the performance of my knees. That has helped a lot. Everyone has their own regimen for whatever body problems Hamilton created for them.
What three artists get you pumped up before a performance?
I listen to different music every day and play it too loud, I have the first dressing room by the staircase and consider it my job to set the mood for everyone coming up the stairs. A lot of YG, a lot of Aesop Rock, I always play a lot of E-40 music, just a lot of really aggressive rap songs help me get in the mood.
What drink did you toast your Tony nomination with?
Dom P. At nine in the morning. My friends broke into my house and jumped on my bed with a bottle of Dom Perignon as I was trying to sleep through the Tony nominations.
If you weren’t starring in Hamilton, what other Tony-nominated show would you want to be in?
I feel terribly unqualified to be in any of these shows. I still haven’t seen Fiddler but that’s the only musical I knew anything about growing up. It would make my mom so happy. My mom ran the lights in the first European tour of Fiddler, so she always loved that album, and I have seen the movie. My mom would totally lose her shit if I was in Fiddler. I can’t wait to see this production of it.
Since you are a rapper, what other rappers are currently on your radar?
Super blowing up right now Anderson .Paak, he’s sort of responsible for a lot of the Los Angeles sound right now. My sort of greatest collaborator in life is Rafael Casal, he’s got a ton of new stuff coming out. I just listened to the new Chance the Rapper project, the mixtape he just put out and it’s brilliant and he’s a super great guy, he’s been to the show. There’s nobody else in the world that sounds like him.
Who’s your favorite rapper of all time?
E-40, hands down.
What’s the one place you have not vacationed to that you would like to visit?
What other major U.S. figure do you think should be on U.S. currency?
I would sort of love it if we started representing teachers on the currency, even living people. Sort of a rotating system of contemporary people. I’m intrigued by the idea of honoring people who are still alive. I think teachers would be a great group to honor.
You used to run track so athletics are probably still a big thing for you. What sport are you most looking forward to during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio?
Always track & field. I still love watching track meets. My brother was trying to get me to go to the trials in Eugene [Oregon]. I’m not going to miss the hurdles and Usain Bolt I won’t miss.
What show aside from Hamilton have you enjoyed the most on Broadway this season?
I haven’t seen enough but I love Eclipsed with all of my heart.
What’s your favorite New York City landmark?
I like the Highline. It’s my favorite view and my favorite park of New York.
What was the biggest “wow“ moment that validated to you that Hamilton was a smash hit?Probably the second time I met the President.
What’s your favorite scene in Hamilton?
“Wait For It.”