Donald Glover gets the chance of a lifetime in Solo: A Star Wars Story, as he revives Lando Calrissian for a new generation. Nabbing a role in a galaxy far, far away is just one of the highlights of 2018 for Glover, however. He’s also got a musical hit, a great TV show, and more movies on the way.
At 34 the multi-hyphenate (he writes, acts, directs, produces, raps, and sings) already has an illustrious career. If he isn’t already a household name, he soon will be. Glover’s path to fame is rooted in hard work, talent, and perseverance. Here’s how he got to the top.
The 34-year-old Glover was born in California but grew up in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He attended New York University and graduated with a degree in Dramatic Writing from the Tisch School of Arts in 2006. Shortly after graduating he got the attention of Tina Fey, who awarded him a writing job on her hit NBC comedy 30 Rock. Glover wrote for the series for three years. He also made a few cameo appearances, which became his first foray into television acting. They wouldn’t be his last. He also began working with sketch comedy team Derrick Comedy, and co-starred with the troupe in the 2009 movie Mystery Team.
While working on 30 Rock, Glover auditioned for Saturday Night Live. Though he was rejected, that might have been for the best as another opportunity soon came his way. Glover starred in four seasons of the NBC sitcom Community, which premiered in 2009. (He had a minor role in the fifth season, and sat out the sixth entirely.) His character, Troy Barnes, a former high school quarterback who embraced his nerdy persona, became a fan favorite, and did more to raise Glover’s public profile than anything else he had done to date.
A Man Of Many Talents
As Glover worked on TV, he also developed a career in music. After DJing in college, Glover began a rap career under the name Childish Gambino. (He chose the name from a Wu-Tang Clan rap name generator.) He released a few mixtapes before his first EP was released in 2011. This opened doors, and he started playing events such as SXSW and Bonnaroo.
Glover continued to pursue acting roles while growing his comedy career through stand-up specials. He appeared in multiple episodes of Girls around the time he released his second studio album. In these years he also snagged film roles, with appearances in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; The Lazarus Effect; Magic Mike XXL; and The Martian.
Glover is outspoken when it comes to his love of comic books. After a fan suggested he play Miles Morales in The Amazing Spider-Man film, he got on board with the idea. That didn’t work out, but he did go on to voice the character in a 2015 animated Marvel series. That wasn’t the end of Glover’s relationship with Spider-Man. The MCU reboot of the character may have cast Tom Holland in the lead role, but Glover appeared as Aaron Davis. In the comics that character is an antihero – and in some storylines is the uncle of Miles Morales.
From Atlanta To Cloud City
2016 was a monumental year for Glover, not just because of his Spider-Man: Homecoming role and the release of his third studio album, “Awaken, My Love!.” Most importantly, the year marked the premiere of his series Atlanta, which Glover created and for which he serves as a writer, occasional director, and star.
In Atlanta, Glover plays Earn, a Princeton college dropout who is struggling financially. He tries to manage the career of his up-and-coming rapper cousin, Alfred, better known as Paperboy. The series follows their daily life in Atlanta and a circle of related characters – but it isn’t just a straight sitcom. Atlanta, which recently finished its second season, has a tendency towards bizarre but effective storylines. Critics and audiences alike love the show, which has won multiple Emmys and Golden Globes.
Glover’s next big project is playing Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story. The film focuses on a young Han Solo, before the events of A New Hope, as he adventures with Chewbacca. He meets the smooth-talking Lando, the original owner of the Millennium Falcon. In early reviews, critics call Glover’s portrayal of Lando one of the standout performances. Rumors now say that Lando might be the focus of a future Star Wars spinoff film.
Whether or not he plays Lando again, Glover is here to stay. He’s having an amazing season, with a successful hosting gig on SNL, the premiere of Solo, and the song and video ‘This Is America,’ which created the sort of cultural moment most artists only dream of. There’s more music on the way and then we’ll hear Glover as Simba in The Lion King when it hits theaters in 2019. Does he ever sleep?
Check out Donald Glover in Solo: A Star Wars Story, opening on May 25, 2018.