Picking up his second Emmy of the night for Atlanta—the FX comedy series which he created, and in which he stars—Donald Glover thanked not only his loved ones and the city of Atlanta itself, but, more surprisingly, President Donald Trump, “for making black people number one on the most oppressed list.” “He’s the reason I’m probably up here,” Glover said. While unable to unseat perennial Emmys favorite beat in the Outstanding Comedy Series category tonight, Glover had a banner night out of the Microsoft Theater, winning earlier for his directing of episode “B.A.N.”
Glover is the first ever black person to win best directing for a comedy series Emmy and only the second to win in the lead actor in a comedy series category, following Robert Guillaume’s 1985 win for his portrayal of the titular Benson DuBois in ABC sitcom Benson. Following up on wins at the Golden Globes, WGA Awards and Critics Choice Television Awards, the Atlanta star beat out fierce competition in the Comedy category, including Transparent Emmy perennial Jeffrey Tambor, Master of None co-creator Aziz Ansari and Black-ish star Anthony Anderson. In Atlanta, Glover portrays Earnest ‘Earn’ Marks, the manager to his rapper cousin, Paper Boi, who endeavors to build a music career in the titular city while managing a sometimes-complicated family life.
Backstage, Glover discussed the way TV can change reality and people’s thinking—a major theme of the night—recalling shows from his childhood, including Mary Tyler Moore and Sesame Street, which “showed me that all of this stuff is made up, and we get to decide these stories.”
“I’m so glad we’re allowed to express ourselves the way we want,” Glover said. Noting the multi-faceted artist’s contributions to Atlanta on every level, the statement was particularly resonant.
Glover also discussed the idea that he made history tonight, actually disputing that notion. “I don’t believe in labels like that. I’m glad I was able to make history, but that’s not what I was trying to do,” he said. “I’m just trying to make the best product. I believe the people deserve quality, and when they taste it, they see the value, and they don’t ask for less. I just want to make a really good show.”
“I was trying to beat Veep this year,” he added. “Maybe next year, on their last year, we’ll be able to do it—and I mean that with love.”
The Atlanta star also reflected on the directors he’s had the opportunity to work with, in whom he’s found meaningful, inspiration mentors. “I’m so thankful for everybody I met… Even with Star Wars, I got 3 great directors for the price of one,” he said. ” I’ve just been very lucky to work with talented people.”
With major upcoming turns as fan favorite character Lando Calrissian in the Untitled Han Solo Film—taken over by director Ron Howard following the ousting of Phil Lord and Chris Miller—and Simba in The Lion King, Glover is also known for roles in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Dan Harmon’s Community, and Magic Mike XXL.
Starring Glover, Brian Tyree Henry (an Emmy nominee for a guest spot on This Is Us), Lakeith Stanfield (Crown Heights, Get Out), and Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2), Atlanta will be back for a second season on FX in 2018.