April 17, 2024

Donald Glover: Childish Gambino

Donald McKinley Glover Jr. also known by his stage name Childish Gambino is an actor, comedian, singer, rapper, writer, director, and producer. Glover rose to fame by playing Troy Barnes on the sitcom Community and his show Atlanta, which he created and directed. Glover has been on many places in media, became an award-winning rapper, comedian, and actor. He set out a goal to not be put in a box. Glover’s work on Atlanta and won various awards such as Primetime Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.

Early Life and Career

Donald Glover Djing

Donald McKinley Glover Jr. was born at Edwards Air Force Base in Edwards, California, on September 25, 1983, but raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia. His mother, Beverly, is a retired daycare provider, and his father, Donald Glover Sr. was a postal worker. Both parents acted as foster parents throughout his childhood also having two siblings. His younger brother, Stephen, became a writer and producer who works with him. Glover also has a sister named Brianne. Glover went to Avondale High School and DeKalb School of the Arts. In 2006, he graduated from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in Dramatic Writing. While in school, he self-produced the mixtape The Younger I Get, which has not been released and has been disowned by Glover for being the “too-raw ramblings”. Glover later began DJing and producing electronic music under the name MC DJ remixing Sufjan Stevens’ album titled Illinois.

Derrick Comedy, Community, and Mixtapes (2006–2010)

Donald Glover as Troy Barnes in ‘Community’

In 2006, Glover was noticed by David Miner, a producer, when Glover sent writing samples including a script he wrote for The Simpsons. Miner was impressed by him and hired him to become a writer for the sitcom 30 Rock. From 2006 to 2009 Glover wrote for 30 Rock, in which he had occasional guest appearances. The team has been given the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Series in 2008. While attending NYU, Glover became a member of the comedy group called Derrick Comedy, with Dominic Dierkes, Meggie McFadden, DC Pierson, and Dan Eckman having appeared in their sketches on YouTube since 2006. The group wrote and starred in the film, Mystery Team, which is a comedy about teenage detectives in 2009. Glover later starred as Troy Barnes on NBC sitcom Community. Glover left on episode five of the fifth season. Glover that his reasons were more personal and as he was going through some personal issues. Glover would create a new stage name, Childish Gambino. The name came from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator. Through 2008-2010, he released multiple mixtapes called “Sick Boi”, “Poindexter”, “I Am Just a Rapper”, “I Am Just A Rapper 2”, and “Culdesac”.

Camp and Because the Internet (2011-2014)

Childish Gambino in “3005” Music Video

His first EP, called “EP”, was released in March 2011. A music video for the song “Freaks and Geeks” was released in that month as well. Glover went to his nationwide IAMDONALD Tour in April. The tour was a live show that had rap, comedy, and video segments. In November 2011, Gambino released his debut album titled Camp. Camp debuted at number eleven on the Billboard 200 and was well received by critics with songs such as “Bonfire”, “Firefly”, and “Heartbeat”. The story of Camp is about a kid who is experiencing summer camp, mixing the kid’s story with his own. In 2013, Glover signed a deal to create a music-themed show for FX titled Atlanta, in which he would star, write, and serve as a producer, he chose FX for their willingness to work around his schedule. His second studio album, Because the Internet, was released in December 2013, debuting at number seven on the Billboard 200. Because the Internet had great reviews from critics with hits such as “3005”, “Crawl” and “Sweatpants”. Glover then added a 72-page screenplay was made to sync up with the story of the album. The screenplay and album told the story The Boy, a character who lives life on his father’s wealth, enjoying all the luxuries of life but also finds himself spiraling out of control. Glover reflects on ideas of the birth, realization, and death of a dream.

Atlanta, and “Awaken, My Love!” (2015-2017)

Childish Gambino preforming “Redbone” live on SNL

Glover later played a singer in Magic Mike XXL and also performed a cover of the Bruno Mars song “Marry You” in the film, in that year in The Martian, featured Glover as a Jet Propulsion Laboratory astrodynamicist. Glover also worked on the soundtrack of Creed. Glover’s series Atlanta was released on September 6, 2016, to high reviews. Glover wrote and appears in the series as Earnest “Earn” Marks, a Princeton dropout who manages his rapper cousin as they navigate through the Atlanta hip hop scene. In September 2016, Glover held three musical shows, it was the “Pharos Experience”, where he debuted songs from his third studio album “Awaken, My Love!”. The album was released in December 2016, being at number five on the Billboard 200 and was later certified platinum from hits such as “Me and Your Mama”, “Redbone” and “Terrified”. The story of the album was Gambino is finding the love of someone, begging the person to let him into their heart one theory another is Glover’s message to Gambino’s son crying for the first time. Awaken, My love! was a major change in pace from his usual hip hop style as it primarily featured singing over than rapping, and saw him take from psychedelic soul, funk and R&B. Glover announced his musical retirement of Childish Gambino in June 2017, telling the audience at Governors Ball Music Festival, “I’ll see you for the last Gambino album” before walking off stage. He further explained in an interview, feeling his musical career was no longer “necessary” and said, “There’s nothing worse than like a third sequel” and “I like it when something’s good and when it comes back there’s a reason to come back, there’s a reason to do that.”

“This Is America” and 3.15.20 (2018-Present)

Childish Gambino in “This is America” Music Video

In May 2018, Glover released a single titled “This Is America” while performing as both the host and the guest on Saturday Night Live. The song debuted at number one, which became both Glover’s first number one and top ten single in the United States. It is mixed with singing and rapping, while taking influence from trap music. The lyrics targets many topics from gun violence and what it is like being black in the United States and showed Glover with a gun shooting at a choir. Glover was then a young version of Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story. In July, Glover released the Summer Pack extended play having the songs “Summertime Magic” and “Feels Like Summer” which had a music video that features a lot of musical superstars such as Jcole, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Drake, and many more. In February 2018, Glover made New Regency, a project which became Guava Island being filmed in Cuba. It stars Glover as a musician who decides to throw a festival on his homeland, with Rihanna co-starring as his partner. It was released in 2019 through Amazon Prime to positive reviews. Glover then was the voice for adult Simba in The Lion King (2019). On March 15, 2020, Glover streamed his fourth album by surprise on his website where it played for twelve hours until it was removed. The album was released on the next week under the name “3.15.20”. It was well received by music critics and debuted at number 13 on the Billboard 200 with hits such as “12.38”, “Time”, and “24.19”. The album as his message to the listeners to live life and experience it, with each song having a message to it. “3.15.20” was Childish Gambino’s final album. The album’s sounds were all over the place with collisions of many genres. In February 2022, Atlanta had finished seasons 3 and 4. Glover then announced that he was working on a Disney+ Star Wars series based on Lando Calrissian. He also began directing a television series titled “Hive”. In December 2022, it was announced that Glover would star and produce in a Spider-Man universe.

Personal Life

Donald Glover and Michelle White

Donald Glover began dating Michelle White in 2015. They have three sons, born in early 2016, January 2018, and in 2020. In December 2018, during the This Is America Tour, Glover announced that his father had died. Glover said, “I lost my father a couple weeks ago and I wanted to play him some of the new songs but he didn’t want to hear them, because he was like, ‘I know they’re going to be great.’ He named one of his son’s after his father.