Actor Donald Glover revealed that he was told by Tina Fey that he was a diversity hire when he was a writer on the sitcom “30 Rock.”
Glover was still living in his dorm room at New York University when he was hired to work on the sitcom as a then-22-year-old writer in 2006. The now-39-year-old opened up about the experience on the NBC series during an interview with GQ Magazine.
“It definitely didn’t feel like I was supposed to be there,” said Glover. “I used to have stress dreams every night where I was doing cartwheels on the top of a New York skyscraper with the other writers watching me.”
The “Swarm” creator also shared that Fey flat-out told him he was hired to bring diversity to the show.
“There is no animosity between us or anything like that, but [Tina Fey] said it herself…. It was a diversity thing,” he revealed.
Fey previously discussed working with Glover in her 2011 memoir “Bossypants.”
“Donald was our only African-American writer at the time, but his real diversity was that he was our only ‘cool young person’ who could tell us what the ‘kids were listening to these days.'”
Because NBC had a diversity initiative, adding a Black writer to the writers’ room didn’t count against the show’s budget. The 39-year-old also said that he later learned that the “30 Rock” writing job came down to him and “Black-ish” writer Kenya Barris.
“The last two people who were fighting for the job were me and Kenya Barris,” Glover recalled. “I didn’t know it was between me and him until later. He hit me one day and he was like, ‘I hated you for years!’ ”
Fans on social media commented on the revelation and noted that the subject was covered on an episode of “30 Rock.”
“I feel like she said this with a sense of humor since they did an episode about this,” wrote one fan, prompting another to reply, “i mean, why would tina, a white woman, say that to donald, a black man. that’s not humorous even if that is her intent.”
A third said, “What kind of b!tch would just openly tell someone that? I don’t like Donald Glover but just who the hell does Tina Fey think she is? That’s fµck!ng rude and demeaning.
Glover also shared that he was happy he was turned down after auditioning twice for “Saturday Night Live,” because had he gotten the gig he wouldn’t have had the career he now has.
The talented NYU grad went on to create and star in a hit show for and about Black people, “Atlanta” and released an album, “Awaken, My Love,” in 2016. Glover won five Grammy Awards for the album and released his hit song, “This Is America,” in 2018. The video for the single sparked conversations about gun violence and racism in the country.
Glover said he was proud of “Atlanta” despite its third season being criticized for being “too weird.” It featured actor Liam Neeson after he was criticized for revealing he once wanted to kill a Black man after a friend was raped by a Black man. Glover invited Neeson — who claimed he felt terrible about his past racist feelings — on the show to highlight racism and cancel culture.
“When I got in touch with him, Liam poured his heart out,” said Glover. “He was like, ‘I am embarrassed. I don’t know about this. I’m trying to get away from that.’ And I was like, ‘Man, I’m telling you, this will be funny! And you’ll actually get a lot of cream from it because it’ll show you’re sorry.’”
“I gathered all that goodwill and I used it to make a joke with Liam Neeson,” he continued. “That was actually an interesting point of like, ‘Do we want white people to talk about how racist they are?’ Because if we do… We were like, ‘It’s kind of whack that we shat on him.’ “Because, like, now white people are gonna be like, ‘I’m not going to say anything.’ And now we’ve gaslit ourselves. They’re like, ‘I’m not racist. I’ve never been racist.’ And it’s like, then why is all this racist s—t happening?
Glover added, “I’d much rather know Liam Neeson was racist at some point. He was the only person who was like, ‘I felt horrible about it.’”
“Atlanta” ended after four seasons in 2022.