Actor Taye Diggs says he encountered teasing and blunt questions from other kids because of his dark skin while he was in school.
Now he’s written a children’s book titled “Chocolate Me!,” released yesterday, that he hopes will encourage children to be comfortable with who they are. Diggs tells the story of a dark-skinned, curly-haired boy who is made fun of because of his appearance.
Diggs is currently a star on ABC 's medical drama “Private Practice” and is also well-known for his role in the original cast of “Rent.” He has a son, Walker, with wife and fellow “Rent” star Idina Menzel.
But he didn't always enjoy celebrity status.
“I remembered being five years old and moving into this neighborhood where none of the kids looked like me and were very inquisitive,” Diggs remembered in an interview with Parade Magazine. “Questioning why I looked the way I looked and why my hair was the way it was. I remember feeling really awkward, like I didn't fit in.”
The book is illustrated by Shane Evans, who is a high school friend of Diggs’.
“It takes parents stepping in and helping children embrace and define their selves,” Evans, an illustrator and artist, told The Kansas City Star. “That way, the world cannot define them. We have to teach them to appreciate individuality, and my hope is we do our best to understand one another.”
The book was inspired by a poem Diggs wrote for a project Evans did in college. The poem was also titled “Chocolate Me.”
Diggs told Parade that he would love to write more books with Evans and pursue other creative projects with him as well.
“Shane has a bevy of amazing and interesting characters and stories that are in the same kind of realm of making kids not feel weird about being exposed to certain problems,” he said. “So we want to build a company around that – an ethnic Disney where we can come up with all of these characters.”
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.