Donald Glover’s FX Pilot Atlanta Casts Leads

donald glover

Though he left NBC’s Community to cement his status as a Next Big Thing in mainstream rap under the name Childish Gambino, Donald Glover will likely be returning to television next year with half-hour FX series Atlanta, starring in the series that he exec-produced, wrote and created.

With cameras rolling on the pilot this month, Atlanta has firmed up its core cast, recruiting Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Lee Stanfield and Zazie Beetz to star in the pilot alongside Glover. Hiro Murai, who directed some of Childish Gambino’s music videos including “Sober,” “Telegraph Ave,” “Sweatpants,” and “3005,” will helm the episode.

Atlanta centers on two ideologically opposed cousins who are working to make it big in the Atlanta rap scene, only to find themselves at odds on critical issues of race, art and commerce and the true measure of success.

According to press notes, Glover is playing Earnest ‘Earn’ Marks, “a loner who left Atlanta only to return; now working an unglamorous job and barely getting by.” When his cousin Alfred (Henry) becomes the hottest rapper in Atlanta seemingly overnight, Earn sees a chance to manage his cousin’s career and guide him to the big time.

Stanfield, whose film credits include DopeSelma and Short Term 12 as well as the upcoming Straight Outta Compton, plays Darius, Alfred’s music collaborator and oddly talented right-hand man.

Meanwhile, Beetz is playing Van, the pragmatic mother of Earn’s daughter, who has a complicated relationship with Earn that both struggle to make work for their child’s sake.

FX has only ordered a pilot episode of Atlanta; it will order the show to series if the pilot meets expectations. With Glover hotter than ever thanks both to his success as a rapper and his supporting role in this week’s Magic Mike XXL, however, it’s hard to see any network passing up the chance to work with him.

Additionally, Empire‘s blockbuster success over on Fox has demonstrated that audiences have an appetite for series set in the music scene, and Atlanta aims to shine a spotlight into the fascinating world of on-the-rise rappers. As far as series orders go, this one seems like a no-brainer.