Donald Glover Compares Dominique Fishback’s ‘Swarm’ Character to a Dog

Donald Glover, the actor, screenwriter and co-creator (with playwright Janine Nabers) of the new Amazon Prime horror series Swarm, has been on the receiving end of a storm of criticism on Tuesday due to comments he made about series star Dominique Fishback, and the implications his words might have regarding his thoughts about Black women, in a new interview with Vulture.

The series stars Fishback, a Black actress who previously broke through in the Academy Award-nominated Judas and the Black Messiah, as a dangerously obsessed fan of a Beyoncé-inspired pop star whose need to be close to the object of her affection turns feral and murderous.

In the Vulture piece, Fishback acknowledges that she had trouble making sense of her character’s motivations, and as far as Glover describes it, the confusion may have been intentional.

“I kept telling [Fishback], ‘You’re not regular people. You don’t have to find the humanity in your character. That’s the audience’s job’…‘Think of it more like an animal and less like a person.” Glover said. “She really was lost a lot of the time.”

“Actors in general, they want to get layered performances. And I don’t think Dre is that layered,” Glover added of Fishback’s character. “I wanted her performance to be brutal. It’s a raw thing. It reminds me of how I have a fear with dogs because I’m like, ‘You’re not looking at me in the eye, I don’t know what you’re capable of.’”

These comments did not sit right with many prominent voices on Twitter, including Vulture’s own feature writer E. Alex Jung, who tweeted, “oh he’s not beating the allegations.”

“To say that a Black female character, especially one who is a serial killer navigating through trauma on trauma and obsessive behavior, ISN’T LAYERED and IS MORE OF AN ANIMAL, continues to prove how this man regards Black women on screen,” screenwriter Kellee Terrell added.

Glover is a multi-hyphenate who’s earned his industry stripes with hits such as the much-beloved FX series Atlanta and with his record-breaking single “This Is America,” but steady criticism regarding the way he’s portrayed Black women onscreen has tracked him from the past to the present.

Atlanta in particular has received criticism for portraying Black women in one-dimensional ways; Glover semi-responded to the criticism in a tongue-in-cheek Interview magazine interview last year in which he interviewed himself, and frankly, avoided the question:

Glover: Are you afraid of Black women?

Glover: Why are you asking me that?

Glover: I feel like your relationship to them has played a big part in your narrative.

Glover: I feel like you’re using Black women to question my Blackness.

As Hood Feminism author Mikki Kendall weighed in on Tuesday, “Every time someone says Glover doesn’t hate Black women he gives an interview and well…”

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