Donald Glover Had A Revolutionary Idea For Atlanta: Let Black People Write About Themselves

Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty.
This year is going to belong to Donald Glover. I can feel it. The rapper, actor, writer, producer, etc. dropped a new album in December and took home multiple Golden Globes for his hit FX series Atlanta. He used one of his acceptance speeches to shout out Migos, and wore a brown velvet suit for the affair. The man affectionately known in my text correspondence as “Zaddy” is wearing multiple hats and winning.

But when it comes to the success of Atlanta, Glover didn’t need to use any of his multiple hyphens to bring the show to life — being Black was enough. Writing about Glover and the show for a recent profile for Wired, Allison Samuels notes that one of the challenges Atlanta had to tackle early on was bringing a Black dramedy to life, focused on important issues, without being insensitive, or worse, corny. For Glover the solution was simple: Black people have to write about the experiences of Black people. He told Wired, “I knew I wanted people with similar experiences who understood the language and the mindset of the characters and their environment.”

Even though Atlanta broke a television mold, Glover had some inspiration. He credits Dave Chappelle and Bernie Mac for setting an example of Black comedy that is still “honest and true.” Both OG comedians tackled serious issues like drug addiction and racism in their respective shows.

To reiterate, depictions of Black people on screen always work out better when they come from Black artists. I can feel Hollywood executives scratching their heads from where I sit in New York.

Advertisement