How Diggy Simmons Is Tackling Police Brutality, Mental Health & More on Grown-ish

For Diggy Simmons, Grown-ish is much more than a TV show.

As he explained during E! News' Ones to Watch: Celebrating Black Voices, the Freeform series doesn't gloss over real-life issues like racism, police brutality and mental health struggles, but instead, approaches them in a way that allows the show to "serve as therapy" for viewers.

Take, for example, Grown-ish's recent recreation of 2020's Black Lives Matter protests, which Simmons described as "beautiful" and "nuanced," especially with regards to his character Doug, who was hesitant to engage with the movement and was ultimately dubbed "a bad Black person" by Kiella (Daniella Perkins).

"My responsibility that I felt was most important was that my heart was in the right place," Simmons said. "There's a lot of people who experience what Doug was experiencing in that script, but in real time...Seeing all of these different elements of the script, I just wanted to make sure that it was genuine emotion coming through and that I was placing myself somewhere internally to where that can come across on screen and people could be able to connect."

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Simmons also praised Grown-ish's characterization of social media and the real-life urge to question whether someone's online activism is "performative" or genuine.

Diggy Simmons

"There [were] a lot of people saying, 'Hey, if you don't post, does that mean that you don't care?'" Simmons said. "And then there was another group of people saying, 'Hey, just because you don't post doesn't mean you don't care.'"

Which is why he thinks it so crucial to take conversations offline and IRL.

"You hear people say that all the time," he added of the need for such candid talks, "but it's so you really know when someone's stance is and you don't base it on a post or a lack of a post 'cause we really don't know where people's minds are, where people's hearts are."

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Simmons urged for similar conversations to be had about mental health, adding, "There could just be a complete disregard of someone's feelings or what they're going through due to there being this stigma of, 'Oh they're just crazy,' or 'Oh, they're not strong,' or 'Oh, they're weak,' just because someone deals with issues differently than the next person."

In fact, he's experienced this stigma firsthand.

"I've struggled with OCD since I've probably been about 18," Simmons said. "And being able to understand myself better has been the most beautiful part of the process because then you feel like you can take over the world if know yourself, right? And you don't feel like you're fighting against this thing, but it's like you're fighting with it."

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Hear more from Diggy Simmons in the above Ones to Watch: Celebrating Black Voices episode.

Watch new episodes of Grown-ish Thursdays at 10 p.m. on Freeform, and Fridays on Hulu.