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June 06, 2017

Lift Off in Low Key

Neil Turitz
  • Gilles Toucas Photography

Getting drunk and strutting your stuff on an empty dance floor at a boring Hollywood party might not be a standard recipe for success, but it seems to have worked well for LaKeith Stanfield.

After all, that’s how he met his Atlanta co-star — also creator–executive producer of the FX show — Donald Glover.

“I was doing my thing and bumped into a guy, and all of a sudden realized, ‘Oh, shit! That’s Gambino!’” he recalls, referring to Glover’s rapping alter ego, Childish Gambino. “He told me he was creating this show and he wanted me in it.”

A couple of auditions later, he had the part of Darius, the intensely chill and almost always high buddy of Glover’s character, Earn, on what has become one of the best reviewed — and certainly most hip — shows on television.

While Darius is the least vocal member of the cast, when he does speak, he tends to utter pearls of wisdom, like in the episode in which he talks Earn into buying an antique samurai sword, then chastises him for not taking responsibility for his decisions.

“I think Darius is really smart. It just seems like he’s not there all the time,” Stanfield says. “He represents that part of the show where there are much bigger implications to what’s going on. That’s what I like about it.”

Born in San Bernardino, California, Stanfield was hooked on acting after joining his high school drama club. In 2013, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his work in Short Term 12, winner of the grand jury prize at South by Southwest.

While his character’s presence on Atlanta might be low-key, that doesn’t mean Stanfield has escaped notice. He was recently seen in Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, the horror flick Get Out, and currently has several films in the works. When Atlanta returns to FX in 2018, you’ll be seeing plenty of him there, too.

“I can’t say anything about it,” he says with a laugh, “other than, there’ll be more Darius in season two.”

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 5, 2017

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