Diggy Simmons’ 2018 bit-part on Freeform’s highly successful Black-ish spinoff, Grown-ish, has grown from a quick conversation starter to a cornerstone of the show’s intertwined plotlines…all due to his palpable on-screen charm and earnest acting.
As Grown-ish fans already know, the show follows the college coming-of-age story of the Johnson family’s eldest daughter Zoe and her group of friends (and various love interests). Over the course of four seasons, the show has sprinkled a real-world approach to many hot-button topics in between its situational humor.
Since his initial introduction to the series, Simmons’ character Doug – the boyfriend of Chlöe Bailey’s character, track star Jazz – has been a primary catalyst to examine multiple hot-button topics facing young people today. Everything from colorist dating “preferences,” to differing approaches to activism and allyship, to ideas surrounding sexuality and masculinity has been up for debate through Doug’s storyline. For Simmons, it’s a great experience to use his talents to help start these important discussions within his age group.
“I think we’ve been seeing a lot of progress within our age group, whether it is toxic masculinity, or what we’re learning about gender or what we’re learning about race, and how things used to be compared to what we’re hoping to see them become in society,” Simmons said of examining these issues for a Gen Z audience. “It’s been really cool to be a part of that conversation.”
Funny enough, Simmons was originally meant to simply be a guest star when he joined the show. First appearing in season 1 episode 10 It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp as an attractive student known to exclusively date and court white women, he quickly became a series regular and eventual main cast member when he had a change of heart and began dating Jazz.
“I didn’t know!” Diggy said of being brought on as a main character on the show. “I’ve been so thankful. I mean before I was even on the show and I knew the cast that was on it and obviously what the -ish universe represents, it meant so much to me to be a part of a young group of people where not only was everyone so talented and cool and doing their own thing, but the message in the series was so clear.”
“I wanted to be a part of that, of course. So it’s been a dream come true, to be honest.”
As for that aforementioned relationship between Doug and Jazz, Simmons says this season is all about examining how the two will move forward from mutual heartbreak now that they’re just a bit older and wiser.
“I think with relationships, when they end, you never quite know what it’s going to end like,” he said. “Can you just be cool or is it just this straight up, ‘No, we’re not good. We’ll never be good?’”
Without giving spoilers, Simmons says he’s looking forward to fans seeing the progression of Doug and Jazz. As far as if he personally believes they belong together? The actor says that is a tough call to make without the audience having seen where things are headed.
“For me to be able to say that, I feel like there’s going to have to be a lot that you have to see us go through in this last part of [Season 4],” he explained. “I mean it’s graduation, you’re seeing how people reflect back on what the last three years of their college experience has been, what they want out of life now. So it’s really all up to that finale moment and…that’s all I can really say.”
Grown-ish season 4 continues on Freeform starting January 27th.