’30 Rock’: Donald Glover Still Lived in a College Dorm While Writing for the Show
Donald Glover is a triple threat. He’s a Grammy-winning rapper. An Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor and director. The face of an iconic Star Wars character. The voice of a beloved hero in a Disney classic.
But before he was Childish Gambino, before he created Atlanta, before he was Lando Calrissian and Simba, Glover started his career writing for the award-winning TV show 30 Rock while still living at his college dorm.
From NYU to ’30 Rock’
While attending New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Glover and some friends formed a sketch comedy troupe called Derrick Comedy. The group, known for its edgy humor, began uploading videos to Youtube and soon gained a following. The videos brought Glover to the attention of Tina Fey and 30 Rock producer David Miner.
“I decided I wanted to write for television because of Tina,” Glover told Wired. “She was always so happy, and I was like, I want to be happy like that too.”
After reading some of his writing samples, including spec scripts for The Simpsons and Everybody Hates Chris, he joined the 30 Rock writing room in 2006.
“I don’t tell a lot of other comedians the story of how I ended up there because I guess a lot of people say it’s like a fairy tale,” Glover revealed to the New York Daily News. “But I just think I was lucky enough to figure out early on that I wanted to do comedy, so that’s what I put all my effort into.”
Glover still lived in a dorm while working on ’30 Rock’
Not many people can say they landed a job at one of the biggest shows on TV straight out of college. But it turns out that Glover wasn’t even out of college yet!
“Donald started right out of college as a writer at 30 Rock. He was actually still, I believe, living in an NYU dorm. He was an RA, and he would work and go home to a dorm.” Fey recalled in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“I literally had my RA pager go off the first day of work,” Glover told New York Magazine.
Glover influenced the creation of a surprising ’30 Rock’ character
You might think that Glover would identify more with Tracy Morgan’s character, the eccentric Tracy Jordan (he did play a young Jordan on the show, after all). But per Cinema Blend, according to Fey, he was a critical part of creating Jack McBrayer’s character, Kenneth, the innocent and naive NBC page. Glover and Kenneth shared a lot of similarities, besides both hailing from Stone Mountain, Georgia.
“I did have more in common with Kenneth than with Tracy at that point—I was a wide-eyed kid, eager to please.” Glover told The New Yorker.
Glover wrote for ’30 Rock’ for 3 seasons
After three seasons, Glover left 30 Rock to try his hand at acting. Just six days later, he landed his breakthrough role on NBC’s new show Community. Glover played Troy Barnes, a washed-up former highschool football player, for four seasons. He put his improvising skills to good use on the show.
“A good portion of the ending lines to scenes in Community would be ones that Donald would just riff on the spot,” creator Dan Harmon said, according to Cinema Blend. “I remember there was a transitional point where we literally started writing in the script, ‘And then Donald says something funny.'”
At the same time, he was developing his rap alter ego, Childish Gambino. He signed with indie record label Glassnote Records in 2011. He has since released four studio albums and won five Grammy Awards.
Glover also created the critically acclaimed, award-winning show Atlanta, which premiered on FX in 2016. The show is scheduled to return to production in the first half of 2021.