gravity of the role and the responsibility to do right by a character that defined his childhood universe. “I get why people don’t like remakes,” Glover said, “and I only want to work with people who understand why people don’t like remakes.”
His obsession with quality—his unshakable sense of his own taste—comes from his mother, who instilled in him a respect for things made well. Glover says it started with fast food. “My mom used to take me to Chick-fil-A. We all know it’s all fast food; none of it’s good for you. But it’s better than McDonald’s. She’d be like, ‘Look at these cups. Look at the colour pattern. Look at the way this tastes. Look at how it doesn’t taste great after a couple of hours.’ ”
Atlanta is the clearest expression yet that Glover has become a genuine creative force in Hollywood and beyond. That’s hard to do even in the most open artistic climates, but it’s rarer still in film and TV, media that tend to reward sameness rather than strangeness. Glover’s genius has been to convince those very real gatekeepers that lazy, reactive, imitative dreck won’t cut it any longer—and to show, through his career and his fans, that large numbers of people really do care about the quality of what they put in their minds.
After leaving the Landmark,
we got in the car again, headed for Inman Park, one of Atlanta’s older, now-gentrifying neighbourhoods. “I really do believe in being a citizen of the world,” he said. Home, for him, is a place he builds everywhere he goes. “I haven’t lived in LA in over a year. I lived in London and we made a home there and we had a place and we made new friends. Then we moved here and we built something here and made new friends,” he continued. “After this, then I’m going to an island and I’m just going to live there. Just create.”
Just as important as his sense of home is Glover’s tight-knit circle of friends and collaborators. The team calls itself Royalty, after a 2012 Childish Gambino mixtape, and includes Fam Udeorji, Chad Taylor, Kari Faux, Malik Flint, Ibra Ake, Swank and Donald’s brother Stephen. They managed his Childish Gambino tours, write for Atlanta and are his most trusted confidants. “I think they’re just a group of kings and queens. Everybody’s allowed to have their own nobility.”
We found a tapas restaurant, part of a bourgie market on Krog Street, which is located in Tyler Perry’s old studios. It was early evening and the vibe was mellow. Nobody, aside from our hostess, gave him a second look. That is, until a tall, tattooed guy wearing a leather jacket walked up to us, told Glover he was a huge fan and called his girl over. She was willowy and dark-eyed, with a delicate bone structure. They were beautiful together—poised and definitively alt. Glover made time for them. “You never know who you meet,” the guy marvelled while talking to Glover. “I love your work. I love how you give it back to the city, broadcasting that shit, bro,” he said.
Glover’s care for black people and the black American experience is undeniable. When he says that he wants “to make stuff that no one else will make”, he means