Turns Out Donald Glover Wasn't Dressed as Teddy Perkins at the Emmys After All
UPDATED, Sept. 19: Multiple photos of Donald Glover and "Teddy Perkins" posing together have surfaced, debunking the theory that the actor was dressed up in character for the show. A representative for Atlanta told Vanity Fair that they had "no clue" who was under the Teddy Perkins costume.
Despite initial reports that Donald Glover was dressed as Teddy Perkins, a character from his Emmy-nominated FX series, Atlanta, at the Emmy Awards, it appears that this was not the case. Though it is widely believed that Glover played Perkins in the show (he is not credited), a mysterious third party came in character — not the 34-year-old creator of the show.
A few viewers recognized the costume immediately, calling out the situation on Twitter, but for anyone who hasn't seen the show (and why haven't you?) here's a rundown of exactly who Teddy Perkins is.
The character appeared in a season 2 episode aptly titled "Teddy Perkins." According to Vulture, the episode aired commercial-free and didn't even identify the actor playing the character. During the show's credits, it simply said that Teddy Perkins played himself. But Derrick Haywood, who plays Benny Hope in the episode, assured viewers that it was, in fact, Glover in white face.
"Initially, I had no idea that Teddy Perkins was actually played by Donald Glover," Haywood told Vulture.
During the episode, Lakeith Stanfield's Darius heads to Perkins's estate to pick up a piano that's being advertised by Teddy Perkins and Benny Hope, a duo of pop-star brothers. What sets this particular piano apart? Instead of ebony and ivory, the keys are a rainbow of colors. But when Darius gets to the house, he meets Teddy Perkins, a Michael Jackson-esque character who has a rare skin disease. As the episode progresses, viewers learn that Teddy and Benny had a white "father," though Glover's brand of dark comedy and the sons' strange adoration of their dad is unsettling at best. The episode is definitely dark for a comedy, but the parallels between Michael Jackson — and his alleged self-loathing — and Teddy Perkins are something even casual viewers can see.
In the wake of the entertainment industry's continued efforts towards inclusivity, the decision to take Teddy Perkins off the screen and into one of the industry's most illustrious events is a huge comment about how white things seem to be in Hollywood. Without saying a word about his decision, whoever is under the costume certainly made a huge statement.