Donald Glover Only Landed His 30 Rock Role Because Of Diversity Hires

Donald Glover says Tina Fey told him he was hired in part because of a diversity initiative.

By Lyndon Nicholas | Published

donald glover

Many stars have quirky stories about how they became famous, and Community star Donald Glover has his own about his debut as a writer for NBC’s comedy series 30 Rock. According to a GQ interview, the writer found out that he was hired in part because of a diversity initiative to bring more Black writers into writers’ rooms.

In the interview, Donald Glover remembers 30 Rock star Tina Fey telling him that his hiring “was a diversity thing,” and he soon learned that his hiring was partly because of a diversity initiative at NBC that allowed shows to add Black writers without it counting against their budget.

Glover recalls not feeling like he “was supposed to be there” and that he “used to have stress dreams” because he felt like an imposter on set. Glover playfully references this with the character of James “Toofer” Sperlock, who is both Black and an Ivy League graduate, making him a ‘two-for-one’ deal for the in-show writer’s room.

The world of comedy can be notoriously hard to break into, and comedians from historically underrepresented backgrounds often have an especially tough time making their way into the industry. Donald Glover ended up writing for 30 Rock from its debut in 2006 until 2009, and it was one of the first major steps which propelled him forward into stardom.

donald glover

After 30 Rock, Donald Glover later starred as Troy on the comedy television series Community alongside Joel McHale and Alison Brie. During this time he released his own full-length stand-up feature, Weirdo, and albums Camp and Because the Internet as rapper Childish Gambino. Because of his 30 Rock writing and niche projects, he became an icon for blerd culture, even if his stardom hadn’t yet reached its zenith.

Donald Glover’s writing for 30 Rock, his role on Community, and his early days rapping as Childish Gambino gained him a cult following, but it was his creation of the dark comedy Atlanta that brought Glover to the next level of stardom. His acting and rap career garnered him multiple awards Including two Golden Globe Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and five Grammy Awards for Atlanta and his musical work as Childish Gambino.

Donald Glover saw other opportunities come to fruition like landing the roles of Miles Morales in the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Simba in 2019’s remake of The Lion King.

Now, Donald Glover is working on a new project called Gilga, a far cry from his 30 Rock roots. Equal parts production company, creative incubator, and culture purveyor, the project embodies the multi-hyphenate renaissance man persona that Glover has adopted since his tenure on the NBC comedy. The creative has been able to seamlessly slip from one project to the next with gusto.

Donald Glover remains busy since writing for 30 Rock. He is one of the series creators for the recently-released Amazon Prime series Swarm, is reportedly working on a Disney+ Star Wars series based on Lando Calrissian, returning to his role as Troy in the upcoming Community movie, and has teased that he will be releasing new music in the near future. Many fans would love to see Donald Glover reunite with 30 Rock stars Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey in future projects, but for now, it seems like Donald Glover has enough on his plate.