9 Things We Learned From Donald Glover’s New York Magazine Profile

Ahead of its premiere, Glover discussed what went into the making of his upcoming TV show, Atlanta.

August 23, 2016
9 Things We Learned From Donald Glover’s <i>New York Magazine</i> Profile Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images

Atlanta, a new FX show about rappers in the Georgia capital, created by and starring Donald Glover, will premiere on Tuesday, September 6. Ahead of the highly anticipated show's release, Glover (also known as Childish Gambino) sat down with New York Magazine's Rembert Browne. You should read the profile in full here, but we've rounded up a few standout quotes from the rapper and TV mogul in the making.

1. Atlanta is an opportunity to tell white people that they aren't masters of black culture.

“I wanted to show white people, you don’t know everything about black culture. I know it’s very easy to feel that way. Like, I get it, you can hear about the Nae Nae the day it comes out, you follow Hood Vines, and you have your one black friend and you think they teach you everything, I get it that Deshaun said that black people love… nigga, I hate Deshaun.”

2. It was the first TV job for director Hiro Murai, but that helped them make something unique.

“Everybody kept asking, ‘Are you sure you want to do it with him?’ And I’m really glad, because when I’d ask him, ‘Is this normal for a show?’ he’d be like, ‘I have no idea, I don’t know.’ But that’s how we made something personal."

3. The show's writers worked out of Glover's crib, where he also worked on music.

"The atmosphere was informal by design, and Glover asked the network if he could skip using an office. Instead, they worked in 'just this house in Hollywood called the Factory. We would just sit around and have conversations,' he explained. There, Glover would write during the day and make music at night."

4. Glover's not a huge fan of The Catcher In The Rye.

“When we were kids, it didn’t make sense to us. This dude is like, ‘Everybody’s phony’ — that’s such a white struggle, not realizing until you’re a teenager that adults are full of shit. Black people learn that real early”

5. With his show, Glover seeks to preserve overlooked sections of black Atlanta life.

“'There were some things so subtle and black that people had no idea what we were talking about.' One actor purposefully delivered his line in a drawl that was nearly indecipherable if you didn’t grow up in Atlanta. 'After three takes, Hiro took me aside and was like, I don’t know what he’s saying. To Hiro, this nigga is speaking patois.' Glover laughed. 'That character is an artifact. Culturally, we’re becoming very homogenized. That dude isn’t going to be around in seven years. You aren’t going to be able to find him. White people are moving into Bankhead,' one of the historically blackest neighborhoods in Atlanta. Glover paused. 'It’s important that dude gets represented in this show.'

6. The show's not just about a single city in America.

“I needed people to understand I see Atlanta as a beautiful metaphor for black people.”

7. He's come to terms with how he's perceived in the black community.

“I know when I go to Baltimore, when I go to D.C., it’s like 50-50 — half of them are like, ‘I love this dude, this dude’s cool.’ And the other half are like, ‘This coon-ass dude,’ he said in his brother’s apartment. 'But I have no hate in my heart for no black person ever. Because we’re in a position where the system has fucked us up so bad we can’t always trust each other.'”

8. Glover looks up to Dave Chappelle.

“I just remember Chappelle’s Show, reading interviews, him being like, 'We just wanted to make this personal.’ So just let me try and make this show as personal as possible, and not just all the nice and fun stuff of being black shown all the time.”

9. He wants his show to be good, not comfort neoliberal sensibilities.

“'The No. 1 thing we kept coming back to is that it needs to be funny first and foremost. I never wanted this shit to be important. I never wanted this show to be about diversity; all that shit is wack to me. There’s a lot of clapter going on.' He was referencing a Seth Meyers coinage: politically correct humor that elicits applause but that isn’t actually funny. 'A lot of niggas be like …' — Glover started clapping exaggeratedly — 'So true, yes, so, so true. But what you did isn’t funny; they’re just clapping and laughing to be on the right side of history.'”

Watch the trailer for Atlanta below. Check out our interview with Hiro Murai, and our coverage of the enduring influence and importance of Chappelle's Show.

9 Things We Learned From Donald Glover’s New York Magazine Profile