“Atlanta” writer Stefani Robinson considers herself “pretty nomadic,” in that the idea of having an office or even “staying in one place” is still relatively new to her. In fact, after two years on the FX comedy, she is just now finally setting up a home office space to work in when she’s not in the writers’ room. When she IS at work, though, she credits the “low-key, lounge vibe” with helping her feel comfortable and stimulated enough to be creative.
In 2017 Robinson won two Writers Guild Awards for her work on “Atlanta.” At the time, she was living in an apartment in North Hollywood, where she kept them on top of her “eyesore of a dusty AC unit.” She has moved since then and gives them “nicer” placement. Still, she admits she hasn’t given much thought to where an Emmy will go, should she win in September. “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”
A Head for Nostalgia
Robinson doesn’t like to collect things just to have them; she prefers items that have “more of a sentimental meaning and more of a history.” A perfect example is a bust of John F. Kennedy Jr. that used to live “on a pedestal in the corner” of her grandparents’ basement. “As a kid going down there it was horrifying,” she says. “I would actively put a hand over my eyes to not look at him.” The item was the only piece of presidential memorabilia her grandparents owned, and she says it must have been a “weird impulse purchase.” When they moved, she asked if she could have it and they passed it down to her. “I built up this fondness for it, and it became funny to me,” she says.
Read the Room
Robinson’s father has a running joke that he’s only ever read one book: “Strange but True Football Stories.” The book by Zander Hollander was originally published in 1973, and Robinson’s father tracked down a copy for her from the time it was published. “It’s a collection of football stories — something I would probably never read in my life, but it’s a very sweet inside joke, and I find it hilarious.” Robinson also greatly prefers flipping through an actual copy of a book such as this, rather than reading on a screen. “I make a lot of notes in the margins,” she says.
In high school, Robinson watched versions of “The Mighty Boosh” on YouTube. The episode “The Legend of Old Gregg” was particularly transformative for her, so, years later when she stumbled upon a painting of the character in a coffee shop on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles, she bought it right away. “The show and that episode in particular was probably the strangest thing I had ever watched up until that point … and in a way it was a catalyst,” she says of developing her own writing style. “I didn’t even know that television or comedy like this could exist.”
When Robinson was speaking at the Austin Film Festival in 2017, she wandered into her hotel’s gift shop, and there among rhinestone bracelets was a prayer candle adorned with her boss’ likeness. “It was insane — the most goofy thing I’ve ever seen,” Robinson says of the St. Donald Glover candle. She bought it, despite knowing it’s probably illegal for the artist to use his image like that, and she keeps it on her mantel. “I only burned it once,” she shares, noting that now it just “tickles” her to look at it.