Why Donald Glover Didn't Want Pros In Atlanta's Writers Room

Donald Glover is a pretty intensely talented guy. Starting out as a writer on "30 Rock" before landing his first big on-screen role on "Community," Glover has been working with great comedic talent since he was 24 years old. This was all while he also honed his talent as a rapper, under his pseudonym Childish Gambino. He became known for his production and pop culture-inspired lyrics and now has four studio albums.

The point is, Glover has as much show-business experience as anybody out there. He's been a writer, an actor, a musician, and everything in-between, and he's only 38. The guy knows his way around creative projects, whether they're entirely his, like his music career, or the vision of someone else, like "Community."

Glover brings this plethora of experience to his current big project, FX's "Atlanta," a comedy whose eccentric ambition matches that of its creator. It wasn't an easy show to get made, with Glover basically having to lie to FX about what the show was about in order to get it ordered. The show combines absurdist humor with deep conversations about existentialism and racial injustice, all in one whip-smart and aesthetically interesting package.

However, in terms of his writing staff, Glover doesn't seem to care much at all about experience. In fact, he seems completely experience-averse.

Taking risks

"Atlanta" follows Glover as Earn Marks, who tries to do right by his ex-girlfriend and daughter as he helps his cousin navigate the Atlanta rap scene. Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield, and Zazie Beetz round out the show's main cast, an excellent ensemble that you come to know quickly and deeply. The show is a deeply personal effort for Glover, who took partial inspirations from the shows of comedians Dave Chapelle and Bernie Mac. "Those shows were so honest and true," said Glover in an interview with Wired. "Bernie Mac had a sister who was a crack addict on the show. It wasn't funny, but it was real."

In an interview with The Guardian preceding the show's second season, Glover talked about the fresh perspectives he wanted out of his writing staff. He notes he wants writers with no television experience, as they'll be more willing to take risks: "You are much more willing to take a risk if you don't know you are taking one, if you aren't aware of the problems that could arise."

According to Glover, this has worked great, as the staff has a great chemistry and similar goals. "I think we keep each honest about what's actually daring. I don't like shows when they become risk-averse. I don't think that's the point — trying to self-preserve. I'm not here to make seven seasons and a movie. That would be really bad."

Unafraid to fail

Glover has a reputation for being extremely confident as an artist. He has said in the past that "Atlanta" will go down as one of the greatest shows ever, only competing with "The Sopranos," only doubling down when receiving criticism for the comment. It's perhaps this confidence that has allowed him to jump into many different arenas of entertainment and succeed in each one, whether it be comedy or music.

It's this confidence that has also given Glover the boldness to make the show he wants. He's going to get as esoteric, satirical, and real as he wants to, because he believes in his vision just that much. He knows he can succeed. "I think a lot of people are afraid to fail because, being Black, you don't get a chance to fail," Glover said. "But I am not afraid to fail." Hey, he hasn't failed yet.

Atlanta's fourth and final season is set to premiere today (read our review here). Many were shocked by the decision to end the show, especially after such a long gap between the second and third seasons. But in an interview with Variety, he addressed it as simply as he could. "Death is natural," he said. "I feel like when the conditions are right for something, they happen, and when the conditions aren't right, they don't happen. I don't feel any longevity. Because then things start to get weird."

Not that things weren't already weird on "Atlanta." But Glover has managed, once again, to succeed and innovate in a medium, and he utilized his success and status as a entertainment industry fixture to allow a show to take chances, and that's truly impressive.