Fea­ture

Esquire (Singapore) - - Port­fo­lio -

“Make stuff that no one else will make. Part of the rea­son I do what I do is be­cause I’m the only one who can do it.”

There’s no be­ing ob­jec­tive about Glover—

not for me, any­way. I re­alise that his suc­cess means that Glover be­longs to the world.

But for a young black nerd like me, Glover has al­ways been some­thing else, too. His ca­reer in show busi­ness started in the mid-2000s, and some of his ear­li­est fans were the self-iden­ti­fied weirdos who felt they couldn’t re­late to the world as it was then. (That was a time, re­mem­ber, when Aber­crom­bie & Fitch was hot and the In­ter­net was a maze of bizarre fo­rums and Live­Jour­nal posts.) As he be­gan to make a name for him­self in New York’s im­prov scene, you had the sense that he got it. He looked like us and talked like us, and seemed to be speak­ing for a seg­ment of young peo­ple who were geeky and quirky and mostly ig­nored. We loved him for it.

Glover made such an im­pres­sion do­ing im­prov that when he grad­u­ated from NYU, Tina Fey of­fered him a writ­ing job on 30 Rock, his first big break. He stayed there for three years, ap­pear­ing in front of the cam­era in the oc­ca­sional episode (once as a young Tracy Mor­gan), un­til he told Fey he wanted to move to LA and try stand-up. In 2009, Glover quit 30 Rock and was un­em­ployed for a grand to­tal of six days be­fore he was cast as Troy Barnes on Dan Har­mon’s odd­ball NBC sit­com Com­mu­nity. Troy was the res­i­dent dumb guy, the char­ac­ter who sold the show’s con­cepts and writ­ing with his per­son­al­ity; he made Har­mon’s uni­verse be­liev­able by play­ing a be­liev­ably re­lat­able role. Glover’s comedic in­stincts made him per­fect for the job and he quickly be­came the heart of the se­ries. By the time he left, dur­ing the fifth sea­son, Glover was no longer a quirky un­known quan­tity with a few side hus­tles. Now Face­book wine moms and Tim Tay­lor-es­que dads knew him, and Hol­ly­wood was start­ing to re­alise that he might be a bank­able com­mod­ity.

Just be­fore we reached

the Land­mark Diner Jr, in northeast Atlanta, which bills it­self as the place “where the stars meet at night”, Glover looked out the win­dow of our SUV and idly pointed to a strip club he’d once been to. So when we sat in our booth at the diner, I asked him about the city’s fa­mous strip clubs, which are said to func­tion as third places, no more louche than a Star­bucks in Irvine, Cal­i­for­nia.

Glover didn’t visit one un­til he was well into his 20s. “I knew what it was,” he said, “and I also didn’t have that type of money.” You can’t be broke in a strip club; that might as well be against the law. “I grew up know­ing that you go to the strip club to have a good time,” he said. He stopped him­self, then added: “Although I don’t know how much fun women have in there.”

In 2012, af­ter a bro­ken foot forced him to post­pone his first big tour as Child­ish Gam­bino, Glover went to Magic City. “Peo­ple wanted me to stop be­ing de­pressed. They’re like, ‘ Give us that smile.’ I just don’t want to do it all the time. That’s not me. I’m not go­ing to lie and say: ‘That feels good, you’re my girl.’ ”

Glover’s re­sis­tance to the pres­sures that come with his fame—when peo­ple want ei­ther a piece of your suc­cess (read: money) or some­thing from you that you can’t give, like your

. . . STA ND- U P

ACT love—is bal­anced by the fact that he is, fun­da­men­tally, an open per­son. Un­til he signed off so­cial me­dia a few years ago, he main­tained a Twit­ter ac­count that was hardly typ­i­cal for a celebrity of his stature. Glover’s tweets were openly emo and they of­ten seemed to of­fer a peek in­side his brain. “lets all get crushes,” he’d tweet one day. “learn to code. god codes,” on an­other.

Glover quit so­cial me­dia be­cause “I re­alised that con­nec­tion was too pow­er­ful for a per­son like me,” he said. “I just would get hurt.” When he goes on­line now, “I try and find sub­cul­tures. I try and find com­mu­ni­ties. I talk to peo­ple as a reg­u­lar per­son. It’s the only place you can be anony­mous.” (As of press time, he be­gan tweet­ing again—his first tweet, since deleted, was in re­sponse to Oprah’s fiery speech at the Golden Globes; his sec­ond was a promo for Atlanta’s sec­ond sea­son.)

“I

‘I WANNA BE

I

TOLD MY AGENT:

STUD­IED,

THE MOVIES A

AND

I WATCHED

I KILLED

BE­CAUSE

R E A D Y.”

L A N D O .’

LOT

IT

I WAS

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