By Serena Kappes
October 06, 2004 06:00 AM

In UPN’s Kevin Hill, Taye Diggs plays a single lawyer whose fast-paced life is slowed down when he inherits the 10-month-old daughter of his deceased cousin. But offscreen, the actor has been happily married for almost two years to Broadway actress Idina Menzel, and kids aren’t in the picture yet. Find out what makes one of TV’s hottest legal eagles tick.

1. Frustration led him to TV
After his breakout role as Angela Bassett’s Jamaican dream man in 1998’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Diggs snagged parts in 1999’s House on Haunted Hill, 2002’s Brown Sugar and other movies. But he decided to move to a full-time gig on the small screen because “I wasn’t getting good material in film,” he told Entertainment Weekly. Kevin Hill also gave him an opportunity to try producing. Don’t count him out of the movies yet, though: Diggs appears with LL Cool J in the upcoming thriller Slow Burn and in next year’s indie Cake with Heather Graham.

2. His beauty wasn’t always appreciated
Once skinny and referred to as “beady-eyed” by his junior high school classmates in Rochester, N.Y., Diggs – twice named one of PEOPLE’s 50 Most Beautiful – began taking modern-dance classes and lifting weights to fill out his slight physique and boost his self-esteem. Diggs also was insecure about the dark complexion that costar Sanaa Lathan raved was like “hot chocolate” in 1999’s The Best Man: “I got called all kinds of names, like Burnt Toast and Black Dot. I had a complex,” he says. “I didn’t think I was handsome, and I wished people thought I was.”

3. He’ll take it all off for a laugh
Delivery guys, watch out: “When I order Chinese food, I’ll answer the door with no pants on just to get a reaction from the delivery man,” says Diggs (whose first name is actually Scott – he shortened it to “Taye” after being nicknamed “Scott-taye”). So, what kind of response does he get? “It’s always different. One dude just stared at me, one dude ran away, and one dude laughed.”

4. He’s a self-professed song-and-dance man
After getting his degree in musical theater from Syracuse University, Diggs won his first Broadway role in a 1994 production of Carousel. In 1996, as part of the original cast, he helped make Rent a hit and met his future wife, Tony-winning actress Idina Menzel. Diggs most recently showed off his talent in the 2002 Oscar winner Chicago and filled in for a few months this year on Menzel’s show, Wicked. His dream role? Starring in a biopic of Sammy Davis Jr.

5. He’s all about his mother
Diggs is a proud mama’s boy. The actor, who’s the oldest of five children, is so close to his mom that he had her initials – “MB” for Marcia Berry – tattooed on his left shoulder. He also credits his mother for his politeness: “I’m well-mannered because that’s the way I was raised.”

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