Recently, actor Taye Diggs appeared on Netflix’s podcast Strong Black Lead with Tracy Clayton. They discussed his career trajectory, Diggs being regarded as the King of Black romantic comedies, and of course, The Best Man. In talking about that film and its sequel, Diggs shared that while the film has been beloved within the culture, White studio execs weren’t giving the films and the actors the support they deserved.
Tracy Clayton: The movies that you’ve been in mean so much to people, Black people in particular. And I feel like a great example of that staying power is The Best Man Holiday. This was 2013, 14 years after the original Best Man premiered…when you heard that they wanted to do a sequel were you all in from the beginning or were you like, ‘Umm I don’t know.’
Taye Diggs: We all were. That sh*t was bittersweet because that was right in the middle of Black sh*t and White sh*t. That movie did really, really well. So, if it had of been a White movie—like they’re making plans when they’re writing the movie. ‘This should do so well let’s set some time aside [and] money for the second and third one.’ The movie did really well and then the studio was just—I feel like they looked at Black movies like a cute little project. Whereas if it had been a superhero movie with some no-name White kid, it would have already been written.
From what we knew, the director was like, ‘Okay, let’s do this second one.’ And everybody kind of just dragged their feet. You know there was a moment when Black movies went away for a minute. So we had to wait for them to come back again. So, I don’t know what Malcolm Lee did but he wrote it and he had to show the studio—people know that the second one is coming. And this is when Twitter was moving. People were responding. And he was like, ‘Dummies, I told you this before.’
In addition to not taking the project seriously or recognizing its cultural and commercial value, the studio didn’t want to pay the actors what they were worth.
And they hardly paid us any more money from that. We had been working. All of us had been working and we knew our worth. All of us had to say, we want to be a part of this and it’s special but at the same time if we do it, we gotta take half the amount of money that we’re worth, smile in these White people’s faces. You know what I mean. But we all did it. We knew this was bigger than them. Because Terrence [Howard], he had been nominated for an Oscar. And it’s embarrassing—not embarrassing, it’s disrespectful to go to a studio and look at these people in their face and go, ‘You know how much I’m worth. I know how much I’m worth but you’re smiling at me asking me to do this for pennies.’
Still, despite the disrespect and disregard, Diggs is happy that he and his castmates were able to give the fans what they wanted.
But we all did it. It was great. We did more than we thought. The movie was more than we thought. I didn’t know it was going to affect people in the same way. I didn’t know it was going to affect people in the way that it did.
You can listen to Diggs’ full interview below.
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