Childish Gambino Is Now The Man & He’s Calling The Shots For His Own Show (Video)
In a year when diversity in Hollywood has been a major point of discussion, creators like Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Nate Parker, Viola Davis, and others have helped present projects which incorporate the nuanced and varied experiences of Black Americans in mainstream popular culture. Donald Glover (also known as rapper Childish Gambino), has been vocal in television for many years, having landed a spot as a writer on the juggernaut NBC series “30 Rock” while still in his early 20s. He moved onto acting as member of the cast of “Community,” but this week he’s launched his most impressive and historic work to date: “Atlanta.”
Airing on FX, Glover’s new show is not only a vehicle for his acting. He is also the series’s creator and one of its executive producers, a collection of titles rarely used in conjunction with a person of color. At only 32, Glover’s success in Hollywood is redefining what it means to be a star in the entertainment industry, and as a member of the Hip-Hop nation, he’s also creating a starring role for the culture alongside contemporary shows like “The Breaks” and “The Get Down.” In “Atlanta,” two cousins are followed as they attempt to make their way in the city’s Rap scene, with Glover playing the fledgling artist manager and Brian Tyree Henry playing Alfred “Paper Boi” miles, an aspiring rapper. The show, which premiered on September 6 (Heads can catch up on the show’s inaugural episode below), has garnered what seems like unanimous acclaim, not only from droves of fans on social media, but also television critics. Rotten Tomatoes, long since considered to be a pre-eminent domain for those looking to rate and entertainment, currently rates the series at 100%, an astonishing achievement for any show, let alone one with such important implications.
Last month, Glover visited the “Tonight Show” where he discussed “Atlanta” with host Jimmy Fallon. In detailing the dramedy, Glover expressed that he wanted to make “Twin Peaks,” “but for rappers.” Having grown up in the ATL, Glover makes the distinction that the series isn’t exactly autobiographical, but rather an opportunity for him to “tell weird stories.” However, it isn’t Glover alone scripting the storylines. Notably, “Atlanta” features an all-Black cast of writers, which he discussed in a lengthy interview with Vulture. “I wanted to show white people, you don’t know everything about Black culture,” he says of that hiring decision. “I needed people to understand I see Atlanta as a beautiful metaphor for Black people,” he says. Similarly, in an interview with the Daily Beast, Glover explained “the thing that I’m most proud of with this show is that we got away with being honest. The things that people are most attracted to online are the things that are the realest, the most honest. We tried to do that on the show because I feel like that’s a part of being Black that people don’t see. I’m trying to make people feel Black.”
Adding even more to his already heavyweight star power, Glover has been cast in the forthcoming Marvel film Spider-Man: Homecoming and is, according to Time magazine, “rumored to be the first choice for Lando Calrissian in the young Han Solo spinoff of the Star Wars franchise.” Such projects will undoubtedly continue to buttress support for a push to include more non-White actors, writers, directors, and other professions in Hollywood, but there is still much work to be done. Just this week (September 7), the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism published a report that suggests that, in 2015, there was still a very noticeable diversity gap in front of and behind the camera, not only in race but also gender.
However, as 2016 sees not only the arrival of “Atlanta,” but also Ava DuVernay’s “Queen Sugar,” Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation,” and the live-action film debut of Marvel’s Black Panther, there is considerable evidence that the face of Hollywood is quite literally changing in front of our collective eyes.