Monday, December 5, 2011

'Chocolate Me!' Book Signing

Taye Diggs at The Soul of South Florida Book Expo.
I love to celebrate literature. So Nov. 19 I attended The Soul of South Florida Book Expo at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale.
I went to hear actor, husband and father, Taye Diggs of the TV show "Private Practice" discuss his current children's book, "Chocolate Me!" 

The book is based on a poem he wrote while a student at Syracuse University reflecting his experiences growing up in Rochester, N.Y., when he was the only black child in his complex.  The questioning of his complexion by peers and teasing, made him reflect on skin color at a young age.  Those memories inspired the words of his poem, which he now uses to inspire youth who might be going through the same experience.  He also wishes to use the book to celebrate multiculturalism, and self-acceptance.

I was a little early for his discussion, so I stood outside of the book signing room with a few preteens and their chaperones.  Five minutes later, Diggs wearing a pink polo shirt, jeans and a checkered applejack hat, walked coolly into the building with his friend and illustrator of "Chocolate Me!," Shane Evans and I think his publicist.  He greeted the preteens, "Hey, how are you doing?" flashing a smile.  I immediately knew it was him, and so did the chaperones.  When the three walked into the room and closed the door behind them, one of the female preteens  asked excitedly, "Was that Taye Diggs?" An elder in her group confirmed it was, and she proceeded to almost jump up and down saying, "Oh my God, that was Taye Diggs; I've never been so close to a famous person before."
That is precisely why I really enjoyed the event.  It was free and open to the public.  The auditorium where the presentation took place was intimate enough for the children and teens to really interact with Diggs and Evans.  
Taye Diggs and Shane Evans invite brothers to sing.
There were no security guards making fans stand at a distance.  They were able to connect with the young audience, freely.

Diggs read from "Chocolate Me!" while Evans played the guitar.  He then fielded questions from the audience on the book, his friendhip with Evans and even some off-topic questions like, "Were you in the movie 'Malibu's Most Wanted'?"  Diggs confirmed it was him.  He and Evans then invited two brothers on the stage to sing with them.  It was heart-warming.
Diggs signs young fan's shirt.
Afterward, we all headed to the book signing room where they signed copies.  As I waited in line to get my book signed, fortunately closer to the front of a long line, a boy who looked around age 11 or 12 approached me.  He said, "If I give you five dollars, would you let me cut you in line?"
I told him he didn't have to give me five dollars, and of course he could go ahead of me.  The young man asked Diggs to sign the back of his T-shirt, which he did.  Really cute moment.
When I approached the table, I mentioned to Diggs I am an alumna of Syracuse University, and he smiled and said while he signed my book that he and Evans were up there the week prior for a signing during Homecoming.  He then passed my book over to Evans to sign; he was friendly as well.  The artist's signature even includes a smiley face.

No comments:

Post a Comment