Donald McKinley Glover Jr. (born September 25, 1983) is an American actor, comedian, writer, director, producer, singer, songwriter, rapper, and DJ. He performs under the musical stage name Childish Gambino and as a DJ under the name mcDJ, although Glover's next album will be his last under his stage name.
He first came to public attention for his work with Derrick Comedy while a student at New York University (NYU), and Tina Fey hired him at age 23 as a writer for the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. He later portrayed community college student Troy Barnes on the NBC sitcom Community. He stars in the FX series Atlanta, which he created and occasionally directs. For his work on Atlanta, Glover won various accolades, including Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, and Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy.
In film, Glover has appeared in Mystery Team (2009) Magic Mike XXL (2015), The Martian (2015), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) as Aaron Davis, and as the young Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story. He will also provide the voice of Simba in a remake of the Disney film The Lion King (2019).
After several self-released albums and mixtapes, Glover signed to Glassnote Records in 2011. He released his first album, Camp, on November 15, 2011, to generally positive reviews. His second studio album, Because the Internet, was released on December 10, 2013. Glover's third album, "Awaken, My Love!", was released on December 2, 2016, spawning the single "Redbone", which peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and eventually earned him a Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance. In 2017, Glover was named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People.
Donald McKinley Glover Jr. was born on September 25, 1983 at Edwards Air Force Base in Kern County, California. He was raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia. His mother, Beverly (née Smith), is a retired daycare provider, and his father, Donald Glover Sr., is a retired postal worker. His parents also served as foster parents for 14 years. Glover was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. He attended DeKalb School of the Arts and was captioned "Most Likely to Write for The Simpsons" in his high school yearbook.
Glover graduated from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in Dramatic Writing (2006). While at Tisch, Glover self-produced the independent mixtape The Younger I Get, which was not released and was disowned by Glover for being "too-raw ramblings" of what he calls a "decrepit Drake". Glover also began disc jockeying and producing electronic music under the moniker MC D—later as mcDJ— remixing Sufjan Stevens' album Illinois (2005).
In 2006, Glover was contacted by producer David Miner, to whom he sent writing samples including a spec script that he had written for The Simpsons. Miner and Tina Fey were impressed by Glover's work and invited him to become a writer for the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Glover was a writer for 30 Rock from 2006 to 2009, where he also had occasional cameo appearances. He was presented the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Series at the February 2009 ceremony for his work on the third season. Glover's musical stage name, Childish Gambino, came from the Wu-Tang Clan's name generator. In June 2008, he released the independent mixtape Sick Boi. In 2008, Glover unsuccessfully auditioned to play President Barack Obama on the sketch comedy program Saturday Night Live; the role went to cast member Fred Armisen. Glover also became a member of the sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy, having appeared in their sketches on YouTube since 2006, along with Dominic Dierkes, Meggie McFadden, DC Pierson, and Dan Eckman. The group wrote and starred in a feature-length film, Mystery Team, released in theaters in 2009.
Glover became known to a wider audience with Dan Harmon's NBC sitcom Community, which premiered in September 2009. Glover played Troy Barnes, a former high school star quarterback who quickly abandons his former jock mentality and embraces his nerdy, childish side as the result of his friendship with Abed Nadir (played by Danny Pudi). Glover did not return as a full-time cast member for the show's fifth season, appearing in the first five of the season's 13 episodes. Despite speculation that he was leaving to pursue his rap career as Childish Gambino, a series of hand-written notes that Glover posted to Instagram revealed that his reasons were more personal, citing a need for projects that offered him more independence as he worked through some personal issues. Although Harmon approached Glover about returning to the show for its sixth season, Glover declined, stating both show and audience would be better served by the closure of his character omitted from the story. In September 2009, he released his second mixtape Poindexter. A pair of mixtapes, titled I Am Just a Rapper and I Am Just A Rapper 2, were released in close succession in 2010 and followed that July by his fifth mixtape Culdesac.
In March 2010, Glover performed a 30-minute set on the stand-up showcase program Comedy Central Presents. In May 2010, a fan suggested Glover for the role of Peter Parker in the then-upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man film, encouraging his supporters to retweet the hashtag "#donald4spiderman". The campaign, originally started to see how far social networking could carry a message, quickly gained a large following. The call for Glover to be allowed to audition for the role was supported by Spider-Man creator Stan Lee. Glover was not given an audition and the role instead went to Andrew Garfield. He later revealed that he was never contacted for the role by anyone from Sony Pictures. Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis, who announced Miles Morales, an African-American version of Spider-Man, a year later, said he had conceived of the character before Glover's campaign went viral. Bendis gave credit to Glover for influencing the new hero's looks for Spider-Man; Bendis has said, "I saw him in the costume (on Community) and thought, 'I would like to read that book.'" Glover later voiced this incarnation of Spider-Man on the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. Glover received the Rising Comedy Star award at the Just for Laughs festival in July 2010 and was featured in Gap's 2010 holiday advertising campaign.
His first extended play, titled EP, was released as a free digital download in March 2011. A music video for the song "Freaks and Geeks" was released in that month and Glover hosted the mtvU Wooodie Awards, held live at South By Southwest. Glover commenced his nationwide IAMDONALD Tour in April. The tour was a one-man live show that consisted of rap, comedy, and video segments. Glover appeared at the 2011 Bonnaroo Music Festival as both Childish Gambino and as a comedian, performing a set with Bill Bailey. His one-hour stand-up special, Weirdo, aired on Comedy Central in November 2011. Glover worked with friend and film composer Ludwig Göransson on his debut studio album throughout 2011. Prior to its release, signed to Glassnote Records and embarked on The Sign-Up Tour. The album, Camp, was released on November 15, 2011, backed by his debut single "Bonfire" and "Heartbeat", which peaked at number 18 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles and number 54 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Camp debuted at number eleven on the Billboard 200, selling 52,000 copies in the first week, and was generally well received by critics, with PopMatters writer Steve Lepore finding it to "undoubtedly one of the best records of any genre to come out in 2011". His Camp Gambino tour was scheduled to commence in March 2012, but was postponed to April after fracturing his foot.
Glover released the songs "Eat Your Vegetables" and "Fuck Your Blog" through his website in April and May. Throughout May and June, he premiered tracks from his sixth mixtape, Royalty, which was released as a free digital download in July. The album featured several artists, including his brother Stephen, under the alias Steve G. Lover III. The single "Trouble" by British artist Leona Lewis from her album Glassheart (2012) featured Gambino with a guest rap performance. The song peaked at No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart, making it his first UK top 10 single. In November 2012, Ludwig Göransson said he and Glover were in his studio coming up with new ideas for the next album which was to be "bigger" and "with more people involved." In 2013, Glover signed on to create a music-themed show for FX titled Atlanta which he would star in, write, and executive produce. Consequently, Glover decided to reduce his work for NBC, and only appeared in the first five episodes of Community's fifth season. Although several networks were interested in picking up his half-hour comedy, he ultimately picked FX due to their willingness to work around his touring schedule. Glover appeared in a supporting role in the romantic comedy The To Do List (2013) and also guest starred in two episodes of the comedy-drama television series Girls in early 2013, as a Republican who is the love interest to Lena Dunham's character.
Recording for his second studio album, Because the Internet, finished in October 2013 and it was released in December, debuting at number seven on the Billboard 200 chart. Because the Internet yielded the singles "3005", "Crawl" and "Sweatpants". "3005" peaked at number 8 on the UK R&B Chart and 64 on the Billboard Hot 100. To promote the album, the short film Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, written by and starring Glover, was released prior to the album's release and serves as its prelude. Additionally, a 72-page screenplay designed to sync up with the album was also released. Because The Internet has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipping over 500,000 copies. From February to May 2014, he embarked on The Deep Web Tour. The Recording Industry Association of America certified "Heartbeat" gold in June 2014–making it Glover's first gold certification.
Glover directed the music video for the song "The Pressure" by Jhené Aiko, whose previous single, "Bed Peace", had featured a guest appearance by Glover. On October 2, he released a mixtape titled STN MTN and the following day an EP titled Kauai, which spawned the single "Sober". While STN MTN was a free download, the proceeds of Kauai went to changing the policies for body worn video policing equipment and to maintaining and preserving Kauai island. Glover described them as a joint project and the "first concept mixtape ever" that continues the story told in Camp and Because the Internet. At the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Glover received his first Grammy nominations for Best Rap Album for Because the Internet and Best Rap Performance for "3005".
Glover appeared in three films in 2015. In the science fiction horror The Lazarus Effect, he played a scientist working with a team of researchers who brings a member of the team back to life with consequences. Glover played a singer in the comedy-drama Magic Mike XXL and performed a cover of the Bruno Mars song "Marry You" in the film, which was included in the soundtrack. His final release of the year, Ridley Scott's science fiction The Martian, featured Glover as a Jet Propulsion Laboratory astrodynamicist who formulates a maneuver to help rescue an astronaut (played by Matt Damon) stranded on Mars. Glover contributed to the soundtrack of Creed (2015) – a film in the Rocky film series which was composed by Ludwig Göransson – providing vocals to the song "Waiting For My Moment" and co-wrote another titled "Breathe".
FX ordered the pilot of Glover's show Atlanta to a 10-episode season in October 2015 and it premiered on September 6, 2016 to widespread critical acclaim. Glover writes, occasionally directs, executive produces, and stars in the series as Earnest "Earn" Marks, a Princeton dropout who manages his rapper cousin (played by Brian Tyree Henry) as they navigate their way in the Atlanta rap scene. Atlanta proves to be somewhat a mystery to its fans. The episodes can vary in format from a sketch comedy feel to a dark, southern drama. In each 30-minute episode, viewers are taken through every day occurrences that offers much deeper meaning at its roots. For his work on the show, Glover has been awarded various accolades, including Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy and Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, making him the first black person to win an Emmy for the latter category. Due to the success of the series, FX signed Glover to an exclusive deal to create and develop more shows for the network. The first of these shows, an animated series featuring the Marvel Comics character Deadpool written and executive produced by Glover and his brother Stephen, was set to premiere in 2018, but it was canceled due to creative differences. Glover later posted an unofficial and unproduced script to his Twitter account, stating he wasn't "too busy to work on Deadpool," shutting down media speculations.
In September 2016, Glover held three performances – known as the "Pharos Experience" – in Joshua Tree, California, where he debuted songs from his third studio album "Awaken, My Love!". The album was released in December, charting at number five on the Billboard 200 and it was later certified gold accumulating 500,000 in album-equivalent units. Considered a bold departure from his usual hip hop style as it primarily featured Glover singing rather than rapping, it saw him draw influences from psychedelic soul, funk and R&B music, particularly of the funk band Funkadelic. "Awaken, My Love!" produced the singles "Me and Your Mama", "Redbone" (which peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100), and "Terrified". Its vinyl release featured a virtual reality headset and an accompanying app that allowed owners access to virtual reality live performances from the Pharos Experience. The album was positively received by music critics and was nominated for both the 2018 Grammy Award for Album of the Year and Best Urban Contemporary Album, while "Redbone" won for Best Traditional R&B Performance and received nominations for Record of the Year and Best R&B Song. Glover performed "Terrified" at the award show's 60th ceremony.
Glover played Aaron Davis in the superhero film Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). Davis is the uncle of the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man, whom Glover had voiced in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. The casting was described as "a surprise treat for fans" by the film's director Jon Watts, aware of his 2010 campaign to play the superhero. In April 2017, Time named Glover to its annual "100 Most Influential People in the World." Tina Fey wrote the entry on Glover, who she said "embodies his generation's belief that people can be whatever they want and change what it is they want, at any time." Glover will play a young version of Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). Calrissian was previously played by Billy Dee Williams in two films in the original Star Wars trilogy. Glover will star in the upcoming 2019 remake of the epic musical Disney Animation film The Lion King (1994) as the voice of Simba, a young lion.
Glover announced his intention to retire the Childish Gambino pseudonym in June 2017, telling the audience "I'll see you for the last Gambino album" before walking off stage at the Governors Ball Music Festival. He further explained his decision in an interview, feeling his musical career was no longer "necessary" and added "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." Glover signed with RCA Records in January 2018, which Glover called "a necessary change of pace". In May, he released a single titled "This Is America" while performing dual hosting and musical duty on Saturday Night Live.
In an interview with The Guardian Glover stated, "I'm influenced by LCD Soundsystem as much as Ghostface Killah. A lot of the rap shows I saw as a kid were boring, but if you went to a Rage Against the Machine show or a Justice show, the kids were losing their minds. Kids just want to go nuts, Odd Future know that. People want to experience something physical." Glover also cites hip hop duo Outkast and trio Migos, and funk band Funkadelic as being influences. He has also spoken of being influenced by Salvador Dalí.
Glover has also influenced a number of younger musicians and actors alike. Rapper Vince Staples talks of Glover's ability to constantly reinvent himself while actor and writer Naren Weiss cites his versatility as a source of inspiration.
Glover has a younger brother, writer/producer Stephen, who was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for Atlanta.
In January 2017, Glover announced that he and his partner, Michelle, had a son in early 2016. In June, before performing "Baby Boy" in a tribute to his son, he revealed his name as Legend. In September, he announced that he and Michelle were expecting a second son, who was born in January 2018.
• Camp (2011)
• Because the Internet (2013)
• "Awaken, My Love!" (2016)
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
Childish Gambino in the news
|Songs by Childish Gambino|