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Actor, author Taye Diggs to receive Distinguished Alumnus Award from SU Alumni Club of Southern California
Award-winning actor and author Taye Diggs ’93, a drama alumnus of Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), is being honored by the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California (SUACSC) on Oct. 20. Diggs was chosen by the club because of his professional accomplishments and commitment to SU and will be the 26th recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award, given each year by the SUACSC. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20, at noon in the Grand Ballroom at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Tickets will go on sale in September and can be purchased at www.socalorange.org.
The Distinguished Alumnus Award is presented to an alumnus who currently lives in the greater Los Angeles area and has made many professional and personal accomplishments since his or her graduation. Chosen and voted on by the club’s board of directors, the award will be presented by Ann Clarke, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Details on the afternoon’s emcee, silent auction (which benefits the club’s scholarship fund) and entertainment will be announced at a later date.
Diggs has been extremely active with his alma mater throughout his post-graduate years. Most notable is his work as a guest artist in the Department of Drama. Most recently, Diggs was on campus as part of Orange Central, the University’s reunion and homecoming celebration, where he held a book signing, participated in a workshop for drama students and led a public event for Syracuse children that promoted literacy. Diggs has also participated in SU’s Sorkin Week in Los Angeles. The weeklong program gives drama and film students in VPA a taste of life in L.A.
Best known for his roles in the Broadway musical “Rent,” the motion picture “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and the current hit ABC series “Private Practice,” Diggs was born in Newark, N.J., and raised in Rochester, N.Y. Shortly after graduating, Diggs appeared in the Tony Award-winning revival of “Carousel.” In 1996, he originated the role of the landlord Benny in Jonathan Larson’s Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning “Rent,” where he co-starred alongside his future wife, actress and singer Idina Menzel. Other appearances on Broadway included “Chicago” and “Wicked.”
His film debut as Winston in “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” brought Diggs much critical acclaim and exposure to a wider audience. Other film roles included reprising the role of Benny in “Rent,” the bandleader in “Chicago,” Roland in “The Wood,” Harper in “The Best Man” and Eddie in “The House on Haunted Hill.”
Later in 2007, he won the role of Sam Bennett in the ABC hit drama “Private Practice” and has appeared in the primetime series ever since. Other television roles include “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Daybreak,” “Will & Grace,” “Ally McBeal” and “The West Wing.”
Most recently, Diggs became an author with the publication of the children’s book “Chocolate Me!” (Feiwel & Friends, 2011), which was illustrated by Syracuse classmate Shane W. Evans ’92.
Past recipients of this annual award include Oscar® winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, former Oscar® producer Gil Cates, network executive Fred Silverman, actor and producer Sheldon Leonard, museum curator Paul Schimmel, music executive Phil Quartararo, educator Molly Corbett Broad, and basketball standout and current Cal State University-LA coach Stephen Thompson.