Wed | Sep 19, 2018

From Stella's groove to hurt child - Taye Diggs writes for children from experience

Published:Sunday | January 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Taye Diggs (left) with Nia Long in the 1999 film 'Best Man'.
Kemron Williams (left), Taye Diggs (centre) and Fabian Coote.
Taye Diggs speaking about his book 'Chocolate Me!'
Illustrator Shane Collens (left) and actor/author Taye Diggs at the JA Biz Town Meeting Room, Caenwood Centre, Arnold Road, St Andrew, last Tuesday.

LAST Tuesday morning, guests filed into the small Junior Achievement (JA) Biz Town Meeting Room at the Caenwood Centre, Arnold Road, St Andrew, for the launch of National Careers Week 2016. The week was previously organised by HEART Trust/NTA, along with the Ministry of Education. This year, for the first time, JA was asked to be involved, to raise the profile of the event and get a fusion of ideas. It proved to be a good idea as, guided by one of their focus areas, the creative industry, the special guest speaker, Taye Diggs.

"What better person? He is someone in the industry. He is an author, he is an actor. He has written a children's book, which is the age that the Junior Achievement supports. It gives pizzazz to our event to say a celebrity is coming down and he charges us nothing," said Alphie Mullings-Aiken, president, JA Jamaica.

And the actor/author was more than happy to be back to the place where the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back, which launched his acting career, was shot. His itinerary included reading extracts from his books Chocolate Me! and Mixed Me! to students at selected schools.

Diggs explained to The Gleaner that the books are written from a child's perspective because "these specific instances happened when I was a child and stay with me as an adult. So when I was old enough to realise how I have been shaped from childhood, they prompted me to write these stuff down. And the thoughts turned into a poem and the poem turned into a story. So I am hoping that these stories will help other people realise the importance of self-empowerment and self-love. It's something we never get too old to apply, unfortunately, in today's world."

"Yeah, we are just excited to have the opportunity to share from a child's perspective, because this is where a lot of the damage was done," Diggs said.

There is no denying that he has a special love for Jamaica. He attributes this to the people and the culture, saying "Jamaica is just cool. I wish I was just as cool as Jamaicans are. I am hoping that the more I come, one day I'll just turn into a Jamaican." Diggs said his favourite Jamaican meal is porridge and he had some on this trip. "It was so delicious," Diggs said.

The decision to invite Diggs was a spin-off from a visit to Jamaica in October 2015, when he attended the Ocean Style Magazine annual fashion showcase. After it was found out that Diggs has written two children's books, he was asked "to do a little reading. And it was such a dynamic exchange." He was then asked to return to Jamaica for another reading, said Douglas Gordon, editor-in chief of Ocean Style, who is also a member of the Junior Achievement Board.

Diggs described his session with the children as great, and that he has never been to a school in the USA with such a cross section of persons.

For those persons bleaching their skins, Diggs said he hopes his writing will shine the spotlight on the inner-self and start a conversation, as bleaching is a sign of lack of self-esteem and self-love.

The week of National Careers Week activities begins with a church service on February 13 and concludes with Take Your Child to Work Day and a Career Expo on February 19. The theme for the activities is Vision 2030.