Tonight, at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, Donald Glover overcame the odds to win two of the five Emmy Awards he and Atlanta were nominated for: Outstanding Director for a Comedy Series (for the "B.A.N." episode of Atlanta) and for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his critically-acclaimed hit FX series Atlanta. While reports say that the majority of TV watchers are foolishly playing themselves by not watching Atlanta (although it is on Hulu, so you truly have no reason to sleep), it would appear that the Emmy voters weren't messing around, giving Glover the props he is deserving of.
One of the biggest feats tonight was Glover's win as a Director; not only is Glover the first black director to EVER win an Emmy in that category, but it's been 40 years since someone won a Directing Emmy in a show they also act in (Alan Alda won in 1977 for the "Dear Sigmund" episode of M*A*S*H). When accepting his award, Glover was quick to big up frequent collaborator Hiro Murai, who himself directed six episodes of Atlanta.
"This really belongs to Hiro Murai," Glover said. "He taught me everything about directing. He had the eye for this show first...and he's just amazing. I really want to give this to Hiro and just say, like, 'I love you and thank you for being my best friend and making this with me.'"
This comes after Atlanta won two Golden Globes—one for Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy and one for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for Glover—back in January. Many should remember that as being the same night that Glover highkey introduced the mainstream to Migos' "Bad & Boujee," which resulted in the song hitting No. 1 on Billboard with a massive 234 percent increase in streams of "Bad & Boujee." This also kicked off Donald Glover being solidified as Hollywood's next "it" guy.
While it had been announced prior to the Golden Globes that Glover would be portraying a young Lando Calrissian in the still-untitled Han Solo spin-off film, FX made sure to lock Glover in with a new deal, featuring the second season of Atlanta (which won't hit TV screens until 2018) and an animated Deadpool series as the initially-announced projects from Glover. Add onto that Glover being added to the cast of the live-action remake of The Lion King (as Simba) and a role in this summer's Spider-Man: Homecoming, and it looks like Glover's dominating the pop culture landscape in real time.
A lot of this started with Atlanta, the quirky series that Glover described as being "Twin Peaks with rappers" that not only featured Glover's TV directorial debut but captured how complex it is to be young and black in today's America, all while showcasing Lakeith Stanfield's star power and earning (no pun intended) FX its biggest comedy debut since 2013. It's a show that found a way to send-up black television stereotypes on an episode that also featured police brutality being discussed by a bunch of cartoon kids and a shithead cop. Atlanta is the most woke corners of your timeline mashed up in a weed-soaked haze of hip-hop and life's ills. If you aren't watching, you're truly fucking up.
Truth be told, shows like Atlanta don't really need the accolades that the Emmys or the Globes hand them. No matter how frustratingly brilliant the series can be for some of us, it's done a lot for getting black faces in the writer's room, on television, and into the cinema—while Glover himself has a number of movie projects on the way, Atlanta co-stars Zazie Beetz and the aforementioned Lakeith Stanfield have netted some high power roles, with Beetz taking on the role of Domino in the upcoming Deadpool sequel and Stanfield being featured in Jordan Peele's surprise box office smash Get Out and Netflix's recently-released Death Note, among others. Those Emmy Awards and Golden Globes help—how else will those who sleep but recognize the power of post-awards show headlines know about Glover and Atlanta—but we're getting the feeling that Glover and his Atlanta squad are beginning to leave their mark, no matter which white organizations start co-signing their work.
Glover's Atlanta is bigger than an Emmy Award, and should be treated as such...although next time, maybe we should try letting Glover and Atlanta win all of the awards.