Lena Dunham has revealed that she apologised to Donald Glover over his role in Girls, hoping that he didn’t feel “tokenised” by the part.
During the show’s second season, Glover appeared in a pair of episodes as Sandy, the black Republican boyfriend of Dunham’s character Hannah.
After Hannah breaks up with Sandy in the show, he responds with a takedown of her white privilege, imitating her and saying: “Oh, I’m a white girl, and I moved to New York and I’m having a great time, and, Oh, I’ve got a fixed-gear bike, and I’m going to date a black guy and we’re going to go to a dangerous part of town”.
A recent New Yorker profile on Glover suggests that he felt his short-lived cameo could have been to “placate” those that criticised the show for its lack of ethnic minority roles.
Dunham told the New Yorker that Glover improvised his lines and that “every massive insult of white women was one hundred per cent him.”
She also revealed that she “e-mailed him later to say ‘I hope you feel the part on Girls didn’t tokenize you,’” and that his response “was really Donald-y and enigmatic: ‘Let’s not think back on mistakes we made in the past, let’s just focus on what lies in front of us.’”
Dunham went on to praise Glover’s artistic individuality, saying: “At least twenty people have told me, ‘I’d like to make something like [Glover’s hit show] Atlanta.’ And I say, ‘Oh, you mean a show that toggles between painful drama and super-surrealist David Lynch moments to take on race in America?’ That’s not a genre—that’s Donald.”
Elsewhere in the New Yorker profile, it is alleged that Chevy Chase made “racial cracks” at Glover on set of Community.
Responding to the claims, Chase has said: “I am saddened to hear that Donald perceived me in that light.”