Photo: Donald Glover in Solo: A Star Wars Story/Walt Disney Pictures
When the news broke that Donald Glover might appear in his own Disney+ series resurging his character from Solo: A Star Wars Story, Lando Calrissian, the internet went crazy. Kessel Run on Youtube first broke the news, and Twitter blew up. Lando trended, with over thirty thousand mentions as people across the world garnered excitement and anticipation at the possibilities. Lando Calrissian was a many-a fan favorite in the second most recent of Star Wars Movies Disney has produced since they purchased the franchise in 2012.
Disney seems to want to keep Donald Glover closer than ever as his career is on an astounding trajectory and who can blame them? Between his astonishing music career under alias Childish Gambino and his vibrant film and TV career, to even his iconic stand-up comedy clips on Youtube, Donald Glover is a living legend.
Donald Glover – Funny Beginnings
Donald Glover is one of the more eccentric personalities America’s seen as of late. But looking at his past, it’s clear to see how someone so infinitely talented can come to be. Donald Glover was born in Edwards Airport base in Southern California, where his father was stationed. He grew up in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and was raised a Jehovah’s Witness. He graduated from the Dekalb School of The Arts, which is currently the #1 high school for the performing arts in Georgia, according to Niche.
After graduating high school, Glover took on the big apple at NYU, obtaining a degree in dramatic writing. In 2006, soon after graduating, Glover caught the attention of Tina Fey and David Miner with writing sample submissions for The Simpsons. His witty and genuinely hilarious writing got him hired as a writer for NBC’s 30 rock.
His days at NYU’s sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy sharpened his funny bone and his presence online. The most popular video from the comedy group has over 10 million views, with fans still commenting in 2020. The group later went on to make a movie called Mystery Team, which went on to show at the Sundance Film Festival. He then landed his special with Comedy Central Weirdo, which garnered serious attention online. Of course, this was two years after the airing of the pilot of one of Glover’s most recognizable roles.
In 2009, Doland Glover found his big break in the ex-high school football star Troy Barnes on the hit TV show Community. Glover was able to showcase the full range of his comedy prowess in this silly, lovable, and at times surprisingly emotionally intricate jock. From this character, Glover was able to springboard headfirst into a pool of vast opportunities as an actor.
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Donald Glover – Childish Gambino
Donald Glover, or rather Childish Gambino as he’s known in the music world, has one of the most culturally influential bodies of music of our generation. Starting from his first album with record label Glassnote, Gambino released Camp with lead single Bonfire. This song has recently found its way back into social media relevance on TikTok with a remix of the song creating 36.9 thousand videos and over 10 million collective views. His second studio album released in 2013 Because the Internet, a cultural staple for gen z, millennials and beyond, features the song Sweatpants, who’s music video has over 140 million views on youtube with people still commenting in 2020.
Most notably from Gambino’s Because the Internet album is his song 3005, which peaked at #64 on the Billboard Hot 100. This song also recently found itself in a TikTok trend, this time in the “rap or get sprayed” challenge where users of the app showed off that they still know every word to the song seven years later. His EP Kauai released in 2014 peaked at #16 after five weeks on the Billboard charts.
But it’s his 2016 Magnum Opus, “Awaken, My Love!” that birthed a new Childish Gambino, and likewise a brand new Donald Glover. From this masterpiece came Redbone, one of the most defining songs of the 2010s. With over 700 million streams on Spotify, the funky, seductive, falsetto-ridden hit put Gambino in a new light. Gambino has stepped out of the shadow of Troy Barnes, and into the luminosity of legends.
Making History His Way
While Redbone may have more streams on Spotify, Gambino’s most culturally impactful song, hands down, was the one that broke the country: This is America. Released in May 2018, the song debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Gambino’s first song to accomplish this feat. With an incredibly intellectual, layered music video complete with allusions from century-old images and depictions of black culture, This is America went home with every Grammy it was nominated for in 2019. Gambino made history that night, becoming the first artist to win both Song of The Year and Record of the Year in the same night.
If there’s anything consistent about Donald Glover’s career, it’s that he never fails to submerge anything he’s a part of in his unique essence. His most notable and most successful project being his hit show, the critically acclaimed Atlanta on FX.
As creator, writer, director, and lead character on the show, Glover has plenty of opportunities to make the show truly his. After earning two Golden Globes, and two Emmy awards, one for his incredible performance as lead character Earnest Marks and the second during the same year for his sharp direction on the show made him the first African American to ever win in the directing category for a Comedic Series.
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Since Atlanta’s first season, Glover has put his magic touch in movies like Guava Island, an enthralling musical island adventure with Rihanna, his voicing of Simba in the live-action The Lion King, singing classics like Hakuna Matta, even duetting opposite of Beyonce in the classic song Can You Feel the Love Tonight. Yes, Glover has a long career behind him and endless opportunities ahead of him. However, these things do not necessarily make one worthy of legendary status.
What Makes a Legend
Reflecting on the careers of living black icons like Oprah, Jay-z, Pharrell, Denzel Washington, and many more, the common thread is not necessarily the greatness of their work, but rather the people they’ve inspired and helped usher into prominence. If you want to understand the sheer impact of Donald Glover, look at Brian Tyree Henry, Zazie Beetz, and LaKeith Stanfield’s careers after working on the critically acclaimed Atlanta. It’s the ripple effect that gives an artist longevity and lasting greatness, not necessarily their initial splash.
Had Tina Fey never taken a chance with a young writer, fresh out of college, the world may have never known Glover as we do now. Donald Glover is a living legend, not because of what he’s done, but because his work will live on in cultural relevance, musical and artistic influence, and in the hearts of creators inspired and impacted by his greatness to come.
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