7 WHOA moments from Donald Glover’s ‘New Yorker’ Profile
Why he can't be your 'woke bae' and what he couldn't watch on television growing up
The New Yorker dropped an expansive and interesting feature on Atlanta creator and star Donald Glover for its March 5 issue. The piece centers on a very brooding, intelligent, and wildly creative man. Like a lot of super stars that shine brightly on the public stage (especially comedians), there is a certain sadness/loneliness that pervades this portrait of Glover.
But of course there are the pops of brilliance that are maybe because of, and not in spite of, that lonely, outsider nature. The feature touches on many topics, but here we share seven bits that caught our eye in particular.
1. Glover is Your Favorite’s Favorite
A few critically acclaimed and award-winning creatives chimed in for this feature to praise Glover’s work:
“’Atlanta’ is the best show on TV, period.”
“For black people, ‘Atlanta’ provides the catharsis of ‘Finally, some elevated black sh*t.’ ”
“I felt like Donald Glover was doing an entire show of the moments we treasured on ‘The Wire’ ”—the asides between drug sellers on the corner, the pop-culture riffs—“where we were stealing one back from television. Watching it felt luxurious.”
2. The Glover Family Household Stuck to a Very Strict Jehovah’s Witness Lifestyle
Glover, his brother Steven, and the slew of fostered and adopted children who resided in their home, all lived within the tight boundaries of the Jehovah’s Witness faith. Stephen Glover talked about how different their childhood was from the typical kid. “We were wised up early to not celebrating our birthdays and that there was no Santa Claus and no magic. Our mom made us watch ‘Mississippi Burning’ when I was six, and she always warned me about wearing saggy pants,” he recalled. While the movie Mississippi Burning was approved viewing, most television was not. Glover had to sneak and watch anything that was not PBS, animal shows, or slave documentaries.
3. Not Shy About Comparing Himself to Jesus
When asked if there was anything he was bad at, Glover gave a frank response. “To be honest, no. Probably just people. People don’t like to be studied, or bested. I’m fine with it. I don’t really like people that much. People accept me now because I have power, but they still think, ‘Oh, he thinks he’s the golden flower of the black community, thinks he’s so different.’ But I am, though! I feel like Jesus. I do feel chosen. My struggle is to use my humanity to create a classic work—but I don’t know if humanity is worth it, or if we’re going to make it.”
4. Chevy Chase Juuuuust Might Be Racist (and Jealous)
When Glover starred on the hit show Community, he was alongside Saturday Night Live alum Chevy Chase, a man whose comedic career started long before Glover was even born. Show creator Dan Harmon shared that Chase seemed to be jealous of Glover’s obvious talent and expressed that in inappropriate race-based jokes between takes. “People think you’re funnier because you’re black,” Chase allegedly said. Harmon relayed, “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.”
Glover never fired back at Chase during his time on the show. When reached for comment about the alleged incidents on the set of Community, Chase replied “I am saddened to hear that Donald perceived me in that light.” At least he didn’t even bother to offer a fake apology. For his part, Glover is unbothered. “I just saw Chevy as fighting time—a true artist has to be O.K. with his reign being over. I can’t help him if he’s thrashing in the water.”
5. Lena Dunham Doesn’t Understand…Anything
Glover is known to improvise on set and it was no different when he briefly appeared on HBO’s Girls alongside the show’s star and creator Lena Dunham. He played her romantic interest and during the scene where they broke up, he let loose quite a few improvised lines about white female privilege. Dunham told New Yorker writer Tad Friend about the experience: “Every massive insult of white women was one hundred per cent him. I e-mailed him later to say ‘I hope you feel the part on “Girls” didn’t tokenize you,’ and his response was really Donald-y and enigmatic: ‘Let’s not think back on mistakes we made in the past, let’s just focus on what lies in front of us.’” What is enigmatic about that? She has been and will forever be clueless.
6. He’s Too F*cked Up to Be Your ‘Woke Bae’
Glover often finds himself fighting against the labels people place on him, even the seemingly positive ones. “Everyone’s been trying to turn me into their ‘woke bae.’ But that’s not what I am. I’m fucked up, too—and that’s where the good sh*t comes from,” he mused.
7. He’s Better Than Chris Rock and Wants to Find a Black Woman Replacement
Not one to shy away from a larger than life comparison, Glover favorably compared himself (In a humble-ish way?) to comedy legend Chris Rock. He claims Rock told him that he could never have pulled off a show like Glover’s Atlanta back in the day. “I’m a little better than Chris, because I had Chris to study. And now I am actively looking for the black female to replace me.”