/Donald Glover Says Tina Fey Told Him He Was A ‘Diversity’ Hire On ‘30 Rock’

Donald Glover Says Tina Fey Told Him He Was A ‘Diversity’ Hire On ‘30 Rock’

Donald Glover says he didn’t get his first big break in show business solely based on merit because Tina Fey told him he was a “diversity” hire.

The “Atlanta” creator and star — who also raps under the name Childish Gambino — reflected on his time on “30 Rock” in a GQ profile published Tuesday. The “Swarm” creator told the magazine that he was still living in his NYU dorm when he got his first job writing for Fey’s NBC sitcom in 2006. Glover described himself at the time as struggling with some pretty heavy impostor syndrome.

“It definitely didn’t feel like I was supposed to be there,” Glover told GQ. “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.”

Some of his anxiety may have been due to the knowledge that he was hired as part of a diversity initiative at NBC, “in which adding a Black writer to your writers room didn’t count against your budget,” according to GQ. Glover said that Fey made him well aware of why he was hired.

“There is no animosity between us or anything like that, but [Tina Fey] said it herself … It was a diversity thing,” Glover said. “The last two people who were fighting for the job were me and [“Black-ish” creator] Kenya Barris.”

Glover laughed, adding, “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!’ ”

Fey and Glover at the Emmy Awards in 2018.
Fey and Glover at the Emmy Awards in 2018.

Christopher Polk/NBC via Getty Images

Despite knowing he was working on the hit NBC sitcom due to budgetary reasons, Tracey Morgan, who starred on the sitcom, told GQ that Glover exhibited his talent and worthiness of being on the writing staff in spades.

“When I first read his writing during ‘30 Rock,’ I was like, ‘He’s got it,’ ” Morgan told GQ.

Fey has spoken highly of Glover in the past as well. When Glover snagged a spot on Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2017, Fey gushed about his talent.

“He worked hard and contributed a lot of good jokes,” Fey wrote in a blurb for the magazine at the time. “After a few years, he requested a meeting with me and fellow producer Robert Carlock. Donald was grateful for the opportunity but felt like he should leave to pursue acting. Of the many writers who have suggested this over the past 20 years, Donald is the only one with whom I’ve ever agreed. One hundred percent, he should go be a star.”

Fey has also admitted in the past that Glover was hired because he’s Black.

In a 2018 New Yorker profile on Glover, she says she felt he was talented, but was hired in part due to funds from the NBC’s Diversity Initiative that “made him free.”

She also alludes to Glover being a diversity hire in her 2011 memoir “Bossypants,” but argues his contribution to providing diversity to the writer’s room was not based on his race.

“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,’” Fey wrote in her book, via Vulture.

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