Ahead of Atlanta‘s season 2 premiere on Thursday, the show’s star and creator, Donald Glover, sat down with Tad Friend for an in-depth conversation with The New Yorker that came out Monday (Feb. 26). The 34-year-old creative was brutally honest when it came to convincing FX to greenlight Atlanta and much more. The piece also includes commentary from Jordan Peele, Lena Dunham and Ryan Coogler.
Glover knew FX wouldn’t understand the concept behind Atlanta being a success when pitching the project to the network back in 2013, so he employed a strategy where he would “Trojan-horse” the executives into making them believers, according to Glover.
“I knew what FX wanted from me,” said the former Community star. “They were thinking it’d be me and Craig Robinson horse-tailing around, and it’ll be kind of like Community, and it’ll be on for a long time. I was Trojan-horsing FX. If I told them what I really wanted to do, it wouldn’t have gotten made.”
Donald often refers to his closest collaborator, 30-year-old brother Stephen, who expanded on the idea of getting network head John Langraf’s stamp of approval in a sly manner. “Donald promised, ‘Earn and Al work together to make it in the rough music industry. Al got famous for shooting someone and now he’s trying to deal with fame, and I’ll have a new song for him every week. Darius will be the funny one, and the gang’s going to be all together.’ That was the Trojan horse,” he said.
The Awaken! My Love rapper makes sure not to forget the industry is a business and that he has a temporary working relationship with FX. “Steve always reminds me, ‘FX didn’t want to do this show — you had to beg them. F— them!’ I like [John Landgraf], I’ve learned a lot from him, but FX is a business,” explains Childish Gambino. “It’s not there to make some kid from Stone Mountain, Georgia’s dreams come true.”
The “Redbone” artist even dished on the racism he was previously exposed to on the set of Community by co-star Chevy Chase. The show’s creator, Dan Harmon, explained to The New Yorker that Chase would often attempt to disrupt Donald’s scenes as Troy Barnes out of spite for his emerging talent.
“Chevy was the first to realize how immensely gifted Donald was, and the way he expressed his jealousy was to try to throw Donald off. I remember apologizing to Donald after a particularly rough night of Chevy’s non-P.C. verbiage, and Donald said, ‘I don’t even worry about it.’”
Looking back on those times, Glover sees it as Chase not accepting that his reign is coming to a close. “I just saw Chevy as fighting time. A true artist has to be OK with his reign being over,” said the Grammy winner. “I can’t help him if he’s thrashing in the water. But I know there’s a human in there somewhere — he’s almost too human.”
Check out the daring profile in its entirety over at The New Yorker. Atlanta returns to FX on Thursday at 10 p.m.