Critics' Choice Awards Host Taye Diggs on Landing His Dream Gig

Sami Drasin/The CW
"I always love an opening number," says Taye Diggs of what he's looking forward to at the Jan. 13 show.

The stage and screen star also talks about being a part of the re-emergence of the rom-com genre with 'Set It Up' and why he's having "difficulty" with social media amid Kevin Hart and James Gunn drama: "It is a double-edged sword."

Many actors admit to rehearsing their future awards acceptance speech into a hairbrush or shampoo bottle, but Taye Diggs says that he spent more time dreaming of his first awards host monologue. "It is something you practice in the mirror when you are 7 years old," says the stage (Rent, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and screen (Set It Up, The Best Man Holiday) actor, who will finally get his emcee shot on the Jan. 13 telecast of the 24th annual Critics' Choice Awards on The CW. "It is something I have wanted to do for a while, so when I am actually up there onstage introducing myself, that's going to be a cool moment," says Diggs, 48.

The 2003 Critics' Choice winner (for the ensemble award with the cast of Chicago) talked to THR about his hopes for the event and his thoughts on social media in the modern age.

What made you want to host?

I am from a musical theater background and it was an opportunity that did make sense. It is a natural fit­ — it's humor, dancing, singing. It's something I had been looking to do for a while now, so its nice that it's working out the way it is.

The relationship between entertainers and critics can be both welcoming and acerbic. As a performer, can you speak to that unique relationship?

It is unique, which is what makes the show so important. As an actor, the relationship with critics can go either way. I would be lying if I said I was not affected at all, but early on in the game I knew I wanted to do my own thing and accept the good the same way I would accept the bad. When a show opened, I wasn't the guy who'd be first at the newsstand to read the reviews. I like to stay in my lane and try to do the best work I can.

You were part of the rom-com re-emergence with Netflix's Set It Up. Were you surprised by its success?

I am barely grasping how different the business is, with all the different platforms. I know it did well, but I still don't know how well. But romantic comedies are my favorite type of movie to watch and to act in. I don't know if the genre is coming back. I think it is a matter of the right ones getting put out there.

You've expressed frustration with social media. What role do Twitter and Instagram play in an entertainer's work?

A big role. Fortunately or unfortunately, it is a part of life and it is a part of business. I have had some difficulty with it. [He famously followed hundreds of thousands of people on Twitter.] But the times change and you have to go with the times. It is great that people are able to express themselves, that is a huge thing, but it is a double-edged sword. A lot of opportunities open up on social media when it is used properly, so I am slowly turning a new leaf.

Given what happened with James Gunn and Kevin Hart, have your views on social media changed?

It depends on the person. People need to be aware that whatever you do these days stays with you. How much attention you pay to it, that is up to the person. I don't necessarily read a lot because I am sensitive and a lot of times people can be harsh. It can get silly when someone tracks down something that someone said years ago, out of context. But, once again, you don't make the rules, you have to roll with the punches.

For the show, are there any topics you will be staying away from?

I'm generally a light and frothy kind of guy, and I'm sure the network is going to go that way also. I want to be relaxed and have fun and I want everyone else to have fun.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.