When ShalomIsrael Diggs isn’t teaching a dance class or meeting up with her famous big brother, actor Taye Diggs, she’s busy elevating the self-esteem of young Black girls. The New York-based entertainer has joined forces with an organization rooted in Atlanta, The Black Doll Affair.
Founder Dana “Mama Doll” Hill created The Black Doll Affair after she discovered the results from the “Doll Test” that was conducted by Kiri Davis in 2006. The experiment consisted of Black children being presented with a White doll and a Black doll. When asked which doll is good, the children chose the White one, and when asked which was bad, the kids would point to the Black one.
After viewing the disturbing video, Hill knew that something needed to be done to boost self-esteem in Black girls, so she started an organization where beautiful, inspiring Black women serve as real-life dolls and spread encouragement to girls around the country. These women, termed “Ambassadolls,” also attend gatherings where Black dolls are gifted to a group of girls.
Diggs is super excited to be an Ambassadoll for The Black Dolls Affair and gave rolling out some details on her future with the organization. She also gave her take on her brother’s recent performance as a transgender character in the Broadway play, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Tell us about The Black Doll Affair and how you got involved.
I was at a book signing for my brother and while I was there, they introduced me and my mom to the crowd. He said the Black Dolls are in the house, and immediately, my ears perked up. Later, Dana Hill introduced herself and gave me her card. We became friends through social media, and I started to read into it a little more, and then Dana approached me and said, “Hey, would you like to represent us and become part of the organization?” It’s such an awesome mission. I’m a teacher, and the whole idea of working with young people and really trying to condition and encourage and develop them is right up my alley.
What is your role in the organization?
I am an ambassador. I spread their name and mission. Ambassadors are the ones who go out and do doll delivery. I’m prepping for creating my party for Dec. 5, where I am gathering young women from an organization like Big Brother, Big Sister, or the Boys and Girls Club, where I can organize a bunch of little girls and host this party for them. They get a Black doll and then we can talk about the message and instill in them confidence and beauty. I’m super excited about that.
Why is it so important for Black girls to have Black dolls?
As a young Black woman, there have been so many moments or instances in my youth where I didn’t necessarily doubt my beauty or my self worth, [but] it was just a hesitation because of the way society approaches beauty. As a youngster, the examples that were placed before us didn’t really encompass and incorporate what little young Black girls look like. I think now, the tides have definitely changed, and I do feel there are several examples of all kinds of colors of beauty, but I do feel because of our history, there’s always going to be that lingering conflict when it comes to minorities and their beauty, and especially for young Black women and for Black women in general.
What did you think about your brother, Taye Diggs, performing on Broadway in Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
I thought it was phenomenal. Especially since it was such a contrasting role from anything that he’s ever done. It was fun to see him enjoy live theater again, because I know how brilliant he is with live theater and how comedic he is. A lot of his roles that he’s been given don’t really delve into the comedic area. This role, as serious as it was, there’s a lot of different parts where he could be completely funny and comical, and it was so fun to watch him do that.