The showrunner and actor says he wants to show that white people ‘don’t know everything about Black culture’
Donald Glover’s upcoming FX rap comedy, Atlanta stands out for many reasons.
All of its lead actors are African American, and so is the show’s writing team. And the story lines, Glover says, are complex just like the real lives of blacks in America.
In a recent interview with New York Magazine’s Vulture, Glover explains why he only employs Black writers.
“I wanted to show white people, you don’t know everything about Black culture,” he said.
According to The Community star and rapper, white network executives revealed their biases when he first pitched the show to them. Glover said that when they heard that the character was a drug dealer, FX execs suggested that he “live in a ‘traplike’ drug den or flophouse.”
Glover pushed back.
“We were like, ‘No, he’s a drug dealer, he makes enough money to live in a regular apartment,’” the 32-year-old told Vulture. “There were some things so subtle and Black that people had no idea what we were talking about.”
Glover’s desire to convey his version of authentic Blackness is also about addressing criticism he’s received from other African Americans that his success stems from appeasing white tastes in mostly white cultural spaces.
“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. “But I have no hate in my heart for no Black person ever. Because we’re in a position where the system has f#cked us up so bad we can’t always trust each other.”
And while television may seem more welcoming to stories that aren’t solely centered on straight white men, Glover is weary of being viewed as a token for being Black and making Black content.
“I know a lot of Black writers and producers and directors and stuff like that who are learning that if you make something cool for no money, people pay attention to it,” he said. “It’s up to us to congregate and make things important. I’m not out here trying to be like, ‘Let’s make diverse (content),’ because the worst thing in the world to me is like, ‘That’s really good for an indie movie’ or ‘That’s really good for a Black show’ or ‘That’s really good for a gay show.”
Atlanta is filmed in and around Atlanta, Ga. FX ordered 10 episodes of the show in November 2015; it premieres September 6.
Here are two promos for his show: