Daveed Diggs, little-known LA rapper, makes Broadway debut in 'Hamilton'

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Among the history-making 16 Tony nominations for the Broadway smash hit "Hamilton" is one for a performer making his debut on the Great White Way.

And just two years ago, Daveed Diggs was a rapper from Oakland who was in Los Angeles earning minimum wage.

Diggs got the call from the show's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, asking him to join the show, as Miranda had come to admire Diggs ability to rap incredibly fast.

"There were moments in the show that he wrote for me that were faster than he would've been able to pull off," Diggs said.

Since then, Diggs has been caught up in the whirlwind of attention and honors that "Hamilton" has earned. He says he struggles to keep it all in perspective, especially after performing for the president and the first lady.

"I was just trying to keep it together," he said. "I was trying to hold back tears."

His visit to the White House was all the more meaningful because as a child, Diggs felt he didn't belong.

"I was very, very shy and nervous," he said. "I still am to a certain degree."

That's hard for audiences to believe as they watch him strut his stuff as Thomas Jefferson in the hit musical.

In fact, Diggs believed before the show opened that he would be replaced.

"I made sure that every time I showed up, I dedicated myself to it," he said. "And got the most out of it as possible."

Diggs is no stranger to New York having lived here after graduating from Brown University. And though he may be a former Ivy Leaguer, he has no sense of entitlement. Though he may just be entitled to that Tony Award.

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