NOW SERVING: PESSIMISTIC OPTIMISM

It’s hard to see it from his seated position on his couch in New York City but Chris Diggins stands 6’7” tall. Before our interview began I wondered what cocktail he would sip on as we spoke and celebrated his channel reaching 5K subscribers in under two months. I guessed correctly: Crown Apple on ice. This is his favorite drink. Chris jokingly mentioned in one of his Convo and Concoctions episodes that the liquor needed nothing but ice. “It smells great and the taste reminds me of green Now or Laters and poverty.” Quibs like that are a testament to his uniquely addictive style of pessimistic optimism. 

Before I could ask my first question,  Chris let me know he was really flattered to be asked to be interviewed but wanted to prepare me for his possible nervousness telling me, “I really am a reclusive and private person”.  For anyone who has ever watched Chris hold his own alongside the hilarious and verbose Alexander Rogers during a PopRoast episode where the duo tag team on taking down celebrities and trending antics, learning that Chris gets nervous might be surprising. When I asked him to describe what PopRoast is for people who may not know, Chris described it as being “like the gay version of Desus and Mero.” To help him settle in a bit, I asked Chris to share what it felt like when he finally uploaded his first video to officially launch his own Cdiggi1-branded YouTube channel on March 20, 2020.  Chris responded, “I let out a sigh of relief. It was a true sense of accomplishment.” 2-years ago, he would never have envisioned being on YouTube at all. 

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Chris comes from a traditional southern baptist black family. Yes, Chris Diggins is a quiet, humble, southern gentleman, but don’t let the smooth taste fool you, he’s also mastered the art of spreading his shade fan like big mama used to do during Sunday service. A graduate from Louisiana State University (LSU) that is located in Baton Rouge, Chris was a finance major who switched to marketing. Chris admits that he wished that he had been more focused back then saying, “I should have taken advantage of an internship that matched my education”. Instead, Chris jumped into the service industry waiting tables to make money in order to support himself through college. The lessons learned as a server back then continue to carry Chris along his way. Chris explained that “when serving, you’re meeting so many people. You’re on a stage, often finding you have to act and be on. It’s similar to how you have to be when on YouTube.”  

The launch of his own channel yielded instant success. Much of his audience easily added him to their subscriptions based on the popularity of PopRoast. According to Chris, “the fans are so passionate and engaging. They already knew my personality. Alex gave me pointers every step of the way. He encouraged me to do my own thing. If it wasn’t for being quarantined, it probably wouldn’t have happened.” One of his custom pieces of content is a series called, Tall Order. The title comes from his service background and is also a play of words on his height. Despite COVID-19 torpedoing the original idea for the show being about the many stories he encountered while serving at high end NYC restaurants, Chris quickly pivoted to talking about life, in general. “This journey has made me realize I’m actually funny…kinda, sort of, maybe.” He loves the interactiveness of the fans and prefers to refer to them as supporters. With excitement and surprise, Chris showed off a newly purchased bar table to mix his drinks that came from a supporter. “I used to have a tray on the top of some suitcases.” There is a ton going great in the world of Cdiggi1, but there have also been challenges. 

Chris shared that although 70% of his supporters are women, “there is just way too much going down in the DMs and in the comments”. Grateful for the opportunity to speak on it, Chris said, “I really wish some of them would stop coming so hard in my comments and DMs about who I am dating. They are barking up the wrong tree.” In addition to the ladies shooting their shots, Chris also shared the challenges he has had to endure when it comes to cavalierly expressing himself. “It’s tough to give opinions knowing that some folks get so passionate and take things so far beyond constructive criticism to being hostile and disrespectful.” Perhaps it has to do with how bold people often are behind their posts, but this opened the door for us to discuss a time when Chris experienced how even his unwillingness to co-sign the opinion of his Co-host and friend, Alexander Rogers, caused harm. Chris was blocked by Amanda Seales from being able to communicate with her. Early on in Amanda’s career, Chris was her assistant for a year and a half. The two have very similar interests in music, pop culture, and being very opinionated. Amanda has worked to become a recognizable celebrity public figure. She has a recurring role on HBO’s Insecure and is currently a hostess on The Real. Naturally, she became a topic on PopRoast. Alex had and has his opinions and Amanda Seales was absolutely roasted. Chris, who did not and does not hold the same opinions as Alex even tried to defend her but unfortunately Cdiggi1 became a casualty of war. You won’t find Chris playing the victim. “When you become a hot topic, you become a hot topic! You subject yourself to criticism. Alex is a roaster. He can go hard but we [often] have different opinions. My hope is that she would sympathize with my position as a co-host but she blocked me before I could respond to her. There is no love lost, though. I love the trajectory of her career especially because I knew her before she blew up.” Chris included Amanda Seales on his list of dream collaborations alongside Issa Rae, Raven Simone, The B. Scott Show, and The Read
Before we concluded our conversation, we brought things full circle back to booze. A new happy hour spot has officially arrived on YouTube. Crown Apple, Absolute Juice, plus Espolon and Don Julio Tequilas are all on his list of favorites. Whether he’s conjuring up a new concoction, Co-hosting PopRoast with Alexander Rogers, or helping to keep television interesting with his own recaps, reviews, and reactions, we expect audiences to continue to be become addicted to Chris Diggins serving up his special recipes of pessimistic optimism during and well after this pandemic.

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