Daveed Diggs, the actor and rapper best known for his award-winning dual roles of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette in the original Broadway run of the record-shattering show Hamilton, is coming to the East Bay next week to show some big love to his alma mater, Berkeley High.
On April 17, Diggs will be the guest of honor at the ‘Business Partners & Friends’ fundraiser luncheon at Revival Bar & Kitchen in downtown Berkeley, organized by the volunteer-run Berkeley High School Development Group. The celebrity will do a Q&A with emcee Robin Claire, and is expected to talk about his school days, why he supports BHS, and his work.
Diggs, whose screen credits include Black-ish on ABC and the 2017 movie Wonder, and who is also the vocalist of the experimental hip-hop group clipping, isn’t neglecting BHS students. He also plans to stop by the Berkeley High campus for a special assembly after the lunch on Tuesday, and then will take 6-8 students to Babette at BAMPFA for coffee and cookies, according to Deb Durant of the Berkeley High School Development Group.
Durant said the luncheon is a great way for local business leaders to support “our future leaders.” “We’re witnessing … our youth … making their voices heard and their minds known about the world around them,” she said. “There’s a great movement afoot, and lots of folks in our community … are seeking tangible ways to support the students in their community, discussing the role their local public schools play, and how to provide our children with the resources they need to find their own path to success.”
Berkeley High students have a strong tradition of holding peaceful protests, be it to show support for racial justice, immigrants or gun control.
The Berkeley High School Development Group was founded in 1991 by a group of parent volunteers to raise funds to enhance academic and other projects at the school. It makes grants for a wide range of equipment and educational enrichment opportunities. In 2016-2017, it managed over $500,000 in donations and other revenues.
It’s not the first time the 36-year-old Diggs — who was class of 2000 at BHS, and went on to graduate Brown University in 2004 — has come to the East Bay to show his support for groups that have meaning for him. Last spring he appeared at Notes & Words, the annual benefit forUCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, and was caught on video rapping with some of the hospital’s young patients when he visited the wards.
And his roots are clearly having an impact on his work. His next big project is a film he co-wrote and stars in with his lifelong friend Rafael Casal, set in his hometown. Blindspotting is described as a story about the intersection of race and class, set against the backdrop of a rapidly gentrifying Oakland.