By Kam Williams
The 38 year-old, multiple Grammy Award-winner is also widely-recognized as a music producer, performer and solo artist. On the big screen, he's previously appeared opposite Halle Berry as her husband in her Oscar-winning performance in Monster's Ball. Now, Diddy breaks new ground by both producing a TV adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" and reprising the lead role of Walter Lee which he brought to Broadway in the play's 2004 revival. Born in New York on November 4, 1969, rap mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs is the CEO and founder of Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group, one of the preeminent urban-oriented conglomerates. The company encompasses a broad range of businesses, including recording, music publishing, artist management, television and film production, apparel and restaurants.
The 38 year-old, multiple Grammy Award-winner is also widely-recognized as a music producer, performer and solo artist. On the big screen, he's previously appeared opposite Halle Berry as her husband in her Oscar-winning performance in Monster's Ball. Now, Diddy breaks new ground by both producing a TV adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" and reprising the lead role of Walter Lee which he brought to Broadway in the play's 2004 revival.
Here, Diddy touches on many aspects of his career and addresses the rumor that he's changing his name for the sixth time, to Sean John. Over the years, his memorable moniker has been altered from Puffy to Puff Daddy to Puff to P. Diddy to just Diddy.
KW: Hey, Diddy, how are you?
SC: Good; how are you?
KW: Have you changed your name again to Sean John?
SC: No, I didn't change my name. That's just a rumor.
KW: Well, then, what is your official name right now?
SC: My name is Sean Combs.
KW: Fine. What about "A Raisin in the Sun" made you want to bring it to Broadway and now to TV?
SC: You don't read scripts like that these days, especially for African Americans. I just felt so thrilled and blessed, that I jumped at the chance to do it. On Broadway, I was blessed with an acting coach who knew the passion that I had to become an actor. And she knew I was studying extremely hard. After doing a quick role in "Monster's Ball," she knew I wanted to take another route besides the cliché roles which you would expect of a rap artist that's transitioning into acting. She said, "If you really, really want to get serious, I have the perfect role for you." Then, she told me about possibly playing Walter Lee Younger, Jr. And I was like, there's no way I can do that. I'd never even been on a live stage. But she said, "You can't have any fears," and so I just really jumped at the chance to do it without knowing how difficult and tough starring on Broadway was. It was a dream role for any actor, but it was one of the most challenging things I've ever done as an artist, and it like truly changed my life.
KW: Did you draw on any of your childhood experiences from Harlem and Mount Vernon in creating Walter Lee?
SC: Yes. Ironically, some people think that maybe I may not be able to relate because I've had a little bit of success. But I feel I was destined to play this role because my father was killed when I was three years old and I grew up in a house with three women, my mother, my grandmother and my sister. I went through those years of having to watch my mother and my grandmother work two jobs and not being able to take care of my family and seeing the look on my mother's face when I would ask for things that she couldn't afford. And the stress we went through when I was going to Howard University and me just having a dream of being in the music industry kind of related to Walter Lee's dream of having a liquor store. Everybody looked at me like I was crazy back then the same way Walter Lee is treated in this movie. And so, some of the anxiety, the way you feel, the pursuit of the dream and how you're constantly hitting obstacles and it's getting deferred