All American's Taye Diggs talks Billy's big return to South Crenshaw
All American's Spencer James isn't the only one returning home this season. Billy Baker's return to South Crenshaw comes with its own set of baggage, including some history the audience will get to learn about for the first time as the season progresses. For Billy, it's about facing his past and attempting to set up a future. But it won't be easy.
EW spoke with Taye Diggs about All American season 3 and what's next for Billy.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So many people discovered the show, over quarantine. What has the experience been like for you?
TAYE DIGGS: The story of this experience is, this is the one show where I kind of went with my gut instead of where the money was or where the other names were. I've gotten really lucky with the work that I've done, but before this show, I wasn't very familiar with the CW. And then the piece really moved me and I'm at the age now where I listen to that little voice inside. I stopped reading all the other scripts and I said I just wanted to stick with this one. So, that being said, it had a slow kind of start, and during that time, I said, "Okay, well maybe this is just for the experience." But then when people started to catch on, then I said, "Okay, I get it. It's happening the way it's supposed to." So, I'm so ecstatic that it's resonating with people. And for me, it's just the lesson to be patient and to keep listening to your instincts. We couldn't be more grateful.
Getting into what's coming up this season, Billy's returning to South Crenshaw and once again walking into what used to be his high school. What does that bring up for him?
When I heard that this was going to happen, I flipped. As an actor, selfishly, there's so much to play with, so much to dig into. All of us, we're dealing with identity, and who we really are, and who we want to be, and what other people want from us, and how other people see us. All of those elements play into this and for Billy Baker, at one point in his life, he was trying to get to a certain place. And some people thought he had to turn his back on where he came from. From moving out of the hood, from dating and marrying a white woman, and even coaching at the quote-unquote white high school. So now to go back and be in that same place around all of these people, where he first began, the people that kind of created him, without feeling a need to prove himself, still trying to remain true to who he is, but then just having to face the past. It's all really, really great, and they dig into a lot of that in this season. And it's been, and continues to be, challenging and fun.
Is it fair to call the new principal Billy's rival, at least for the time being?
I think so. I mean, this is what I'm realizing and I'm telling my son: Life isn't fair, you know what I mean? Most things in life aren't going to make sense and you got to keep going. Like with Billy, he feels like he's come a long way and his past is in the past, and he's still a work in progress, but he's proud of the man that he is. And then boom, he's in this situation where regardless of the work that he's done on himself, he's got to come to terms with the fact that his behavior in the past has altered people's lives and people are still living in that place and holding him accountable. And I would say that's not fair. If I moved on, then you should too. It's not fair, but that's something that we have to deal with. And, this little segment, this little storyline is going to prove that.
One thing that we haven't really touched on yet is that Billy's now coaching against his son. Will that cause some drama this season?
It's going to have to. We haven't dealt with it yet. I think there's one episode where we're both playing a game that Friday night and right before my game, I call my son to see if he's okay. And I give him a couple of helpful hints for the team that he's playing. But that, once again, as an actor, that's going to be great. That's going to be great drama to play. I always wonder, like parents that are blessed to have two kids that are in the NBA or the NFL and they're playing against each other, how they root for each other. I always wonder about that. I'm going to get to dip into it myself, even if it's from an actor's perspective.
Coaching your son is already complicated enough, now to be trying to beat him just adds another layer to it.
Yeah, very much. So many things in life are kind of like that. Just because you have opposing thoughts or feelings doesn't mean that that situation disappears. But the world keeps turning so you got to figure it out.
All American airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
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