While Hamilton shot Daveed Diggs to fame, he was no overnight success. While building his career as a rapper and actor, Diggs was a substitute teacher and worked his share of "whatever jobs," including catering delivery.
He lost focus only when he did things he "was supposed to do," Diggs told Inc. "The detours that went wrong were always ones where I was chasing something that wasn't something I was passionate about."
For example, after a successful run in a play in the Bay Area, a mentor told him he had to go to Hollywood. For a few months, Diggs went on a seemingly endless series of agency meetings while sleeping on a friend's floor in Los Angeles.
"I would go in these meetings, and they would be like, 'Awesome. Let's have another meeting in three weeks.' I was, 'OK, that sounds good.' And then we'd have another meeting, and then they'd set up another meeting. That's a lot of what Hollywood is like," he says. "Nobody really cared, and I had so many meetings."
Discouraged, he left an appointment one day, got in his car, and drove five straight hours without realizing it back to his home in the Bay Area.
I called my friend and was like, "I guess I'm not coming back to your place. You can burn those clothes or whatever. I don't need them," he says. He began making music, resumed teaching, and eventually took parts in plays he truly wanted to do, including Hamilton.
After winning Tony and Grammy awards, Diggs opted to not re-sign with Hamilton, and instead completed the 2018 film Blindspotting, a passion project with his friend Rafael Casal, nearly a decade in the making. He is now starring in Snowpiercer, a series that premiered this week on TNT, based on director Bong Joon-ho's 2013 film.
"Pushing toward the things that you love and really genuinely working at them is always going to set you up for success," he says.