Daveed Diggs admits that he doesn’t get much sleep these days. Ever since the Oakland native stepped away from his Tony and Grammy award-winning dual role in “Hamilton,” his show-biz résumé has experienced an extreme case of bloat — crammed with various projects ranging from TV and movies to music and whatever he feels like doing at the moment.
The man just keeps on going.
“I just think of it as putting a puzzle together,” he says. “I’m starting to realize that what’s wonderful about life is that you can make time to do the things you love, and I love a lot of things. … It’s great to jump from project to project and be inspired in new ways.”
The latest bit of inspiration comes with “The Mayor,” a well-reviewed new sitcom arriving next week (9:30 p.m. Tuesday, ABC). Diggs is one of the executive producers and, along with Clipping — his experimental rap group — he’s creating original music for the show.
Created by Jeremy Bronson (“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”), “The Mayor” stars charismatic newcomer Brandon Michael Hall as a struggling young rapper who is tired of waiting for his big break to happen. So he hatches a crazy plan to run for political office in his struggling community as a publicity stunt, only to be shocked when he actually wins.
The cast also includes Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community”) and Lea Michele (“Glee”).
“The Mayor” has been described as a classic fish-out-of-water saga, and Diggs can definitely relate. The Berkeley High School grad didn’t even know what an executive producer does until he met Bronson through their shared agent. When Bronson pitched the show’s concept to Diggs, he was instantly hooked.
“The more we talked about it, the more my brain just started going crazy,” Diggs recalls. “… The idea of a very local, political show that includes rap music became, for me, this really interesting challenge to present rap as it is actually used.
“When you grow up as a rapper, it’s a very local thing. There are the people on the radio, but that’s not who we’re really listening to. We’re listening to everybody who’s at the poetry cafe. Those are the people who are the soundboards for our communities. So it just became this piece that I was really fascinated in, and I haven’t really stopped thinking about it since.”
That “sense of place” is a driving force for the new executive producer. Under Diggs’ influence, the show’s setting became a fictional Bay Area community, but with the distinct “feel of Oakland.”
He also believed it essential that Hall, a South Carolina native who had never visited the Bay Area, pick up on that feel.
“We talked about the synergy of the whole thing,” Diggs says. “And one of the great things that we got to do was bring Brandon out to the Bay. I just dropped him off with my friends. It was like, ‘Teach the boy.’ ”
Even the show’s music “is repping the Bay Area really hard,” says Diggs, who clearly remains devoted to his hometown. In fact, one of the many projects he’s working on is “Blindspotting,” a film he wrote with slam poet Rafael Casal about two movers trying to get by in a rapidly gentrifying Oakland.
Other than that, Diggs will continue to occasionally appear as Rainbow’s (Tracee Ellis Ross) brother on ABC’s “Black-ish. Also, there’s his upcoming appearance alongside Julia Roberts in the film “Wonder,” and his starring role in TNT’s futuristic thriller “Snowpiercer.” And did we mention that he recently was seen — with fellow Bay Area natives Andy Samberg and Will Forte — in the HBO sports mockumentary, “Tour de Pharmacy”?
Maybe it’s because of all that screen time that Diggs doesn’t feel the need to show his face on “The Mayor.” Yes, he does have a cameo appearance in the pilot episode, but he doesn’t plan to make a habit of it.
“There are opportunities, but I’m really excited about the work that’s happening behind the scenes of the show,” he says. “That’s something that I have less experience at, and there’s so much work to do, and I’m so excited to do it.”
The Homegrown column is about Bay Area people and places on the screen. Contact Chuck Barney at email@example.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/chuckbarney and Facebook.com/bayareanewsgroup.chuckbarney.
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