Donald Glover Is More Talented Than You

The comedian/writer/rapper is on a collision course with stardom

A suburb of Atlanta, Stone Mountain sits in the shadow of a large relief sculpture of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson carved in the side of the mountain of the same name. It is the place where the Ku Klux Klan was rebooted in 1915—and Martin Luther King references it in his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech.

There was a television in the Glover household, but the kids, being raised Jehovah's Witness, were not allowed to watch it. So Glover would take his Talkboy, record the audio of episodes of The Simpsons, wait until bedtime, and listen to them as he lay in his bed. (He would later write a spec script for The Simpsons in which Homer is arrested for stealing a single song off the Internet and taken to court by the RIAA, where he must face his victims, Hall & Oates.)

His parents, mother Beverly and postal-worker father Donald Sr.—contrary to what you might read on the Internet, Glover is not the son of Lethal Weapon actor Danny Glover—were also foster parents, which meant a steady stream of kids entered Glover's home.

The part of Troy Barnes was originally written for a white guy. “When you think of the former high school football star, you think 6-foot-2, white, meathead as the model for that kind of character. Since I'm not 6-foot-2 or white, I just thought about what I could bring to it. I thought about Smash Williams from Friday Night Lights, like the cocky quarterback, and played around with that,” Glover told NY Daily News.
The part of Troy Barnes was originally written for a white guy. “When you think of the former high school football star, you think 6-foot-2, white, meathead as the model for that kind of character. Since I'm not 6-foot-2 or white, I just thought about what I could bring to it. I thought about Smash Williams from Friday Night Lights, like the cocky quarterback, and played around with that,” Glover told NY Daily News.
Glover performing at Red 7 in Austin.
Nate "Igor" Smith
Glover performing at Red 7 in Austin.

Glover says he was happy growing up, but always had a fear that something would go wrong—that something bad would happen around the next corner. "I was the type of kid—I felt like I was always being blamed for things that weren't my fault. So I always wanted things to go smoothly. And growing up in the South, people didn't like me because I was black. And it took on this thing: I'm gonna be me so much, and be sooo likeable, that I will change their minds. And I know now that that's impossible. But I had to try."

The kids who would come through his front door had often been through a lot already in their lives. When his parents brought home a child who had been molested, they had to explain to Glover that the boy needed a lot more attention. As a kid, Glover remembers asking himself, "What about me?"

So he would do anything to get his parents' attention—puppet shows, plays, skateboarding.

For a while, he was the only black kid in his school. A black kid who liked the Muppets and Korn. A good student but a disruption in class, he migrated to the DeKalb School of the Arts, where he starred in plays like 42nd Street and Pippen, and then used his performing as a way to escape Georgia to New York for school.

"NYU is like a Jurassic 5 concert—there are supposed to be black people there, but there aren't," Glover says in his stand-up. Studying dramatic writing in the hopes of being a playwright, he began performing in sketch comedy troop Hammerkatz, where he met current writing partners DC Pierson and Dominic Dierkes. The three split off to start Derrick Comedy with director Dan Eckman.

The sketches of Derrick are teeming with frat-boy, racial, and homoerotic humor. But underneath the dick and fart jokes is a sincerity that makes them work.

In even the smallest roles in the sketches, Glover's star power is evident. But it's the ones in which he takes the lead that you're likely to wet yourself, such as the student-film-as-revenge epic "Girls Are Not to Be Trusted" and the most popular Derrick sketch, "Bro Rape: A Newsline Investigative Report," a Dateline send-up involving Natty Ice–drinking, Jack Johnson–listening male predators.

And then there's "Jerry," in which Glover plays a high school student who tries to fart but accidentally shits his pants in class, then spends the rest of the sketch trying to pass it off a million different ways while bawling his eyes out. It's ridiculous and over-the-top, but there is a believability and earnestness in Glover's performance that makes you care for him. At that point, we are all that kid. And it's a microcosm of Glover's range—wild and heartfelt . . . with poop.

Glover landed in New York a virgin who had never tasted alcohol. His first drink took place in a dorm room at NYU's Brittany Hall as a sophomore. He sat in the corner of a room full of people, his hoodie pulled over his head, debating the whole night whether to take a swig or not. When he finally did, he thought for sure he might die—the fears that nagged him while growing up ruling over a lot of what he did.

In his junior year, he lost his virginity—to another R.A. in his dorm. Never having been in any kind of intimate relationship before, he was unsure of what to do when the deed was done. Was he going to have to marry this girl? But she told him, "No, it was just fun. It doesn't mean anything." "Doesn't mean anything?" Glover thought to himself. "Oh, OK."

It was then that the Childish Gambino was born.

He had been mixing beats since freshman year with a ripped version of Fruity Loops, but now he began rapping over them with rhymes about girls and love. The name "Childish Gambino" popped up on a Wu-Tang Clan name-generator site, so he kept it and put the first tracks on tape.

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32 comments
elysehowdershell
elysehowdershell

Thanks for the awesome article! I'm seeing Childish Gambino tonight in Asheville and I'm so excited! He was supposed to play on March 19th but the show was rescheduled so there's definitely gonna be some intense energy tonight:)

Jessica
Jessica

Makes me feel like I should be doing more with my life..

alexis
alexis

no doubt about that.

donaldfan
donaldfan

Im happy for him and I want to see him make it to the top.Hes doing it the right way.Hes putting in the time.He's going against the grain.Its unfortunate that he has to fight THIS hard because he is a black man doing things that black men arent usually permitted to do.So its going to be harder for him but hes working his ass off and its paying off in a big way.Im rooting for him.I wont be happy until "hes fucking running everything".

Christ Khodadadi
Christ Khodadadi

Why didnt I run into Donald at NYU? I remember Aziz Ansari coming into the Stern computer labs when I was working tho.

Dorklops
Dorklops

Great article, it showed a new insight into someone I follow somewhat closely. I almost went to read the comments before remembering that they often put a negative spin on everything, and who wants that? Just let it sit for a while and think about it, it gives art a greater poignancy.

GuestJ
GuestJ

How come black men prefer women of other ethnicities (white, Latinas, Asian) over black women?

The AMAZING Dik Shuttle
The AMAZING Dik Shuttle

Ok - Love Donald Glover's work. And hopefully he's a good guy, not that that necessarily really matters. But "in it for the power"? Gee, Emperor much? That's some darkside. Watch the evil, kiid.

ki
ki

"Emo emo emo". How old and out of touch is the author of this article? Please buy a vocab builder, buddy.

Devin Newton
Devin Newton

I absolutely LOVE Donald Glover. I've been following him since my sophomore year in high school (2005) and its been great to see him get better and better over the years. He is a great everything actor, writer, and rapper. Me, my brothers, and some of my friends are so happy that there is finally somebody that gets us (Black kids that love rock and other white kid stuff) and is making the world get us. Thank you Donald and much love bro!

Dave
Dave

I'm a huge Donald Glover a.k.a Childish Gambino fan, this was a great article, very well written. I hope the world continues to be exposed to his music and his art, he is a breathe of fresh air.

RagelX
RagelX

Beautiful Article. This dude is coming up! I just hope he doesn't push himself too far and hurt himself. What other guy do you know, writes for TV (in college), makes his own music (beats and lyrics), does stand-up, and acts...all successfully?

Viva Donglover

Disco
Disco

That was a great story. I watch Community and Troy is one of my favorite characters. I had no idea he wrote for shows when he was at NYU - that's really impressive. I wish the best for him.

corie
corie

27??????? omg this kid looks 17 amazing ! very good genes lol

Cindy Cynical
Cindy Cynical

I can't agree with Cynthia F. more; this article seems to encapsulate Glover's progress up until this point. This article seems to capture exactly the person that he is: humble, sincere, and power-driven. I find him absolutely amazing and every time that I have met him, he has been as sweet as pie as if he has known me forever. He is such a great person and with all of the leaps he has made within the past year or so, I have no doubt that he will continue to entertain us for a very long time. I've been a fan of his since 2005 (when I started college) and I'm thrilled to have watched him grow and come into his own. I would've never thought the cute black guy from "Progressions of a Mad Hatter" would become the rapper Childish Gambino or nerdy type Troy on Community.

Pierresito
Pierresito

Have to agree with Cynthia, this article is amazing, and Donald is going to go far. This showed a great side of Donald, one you dont really see in other interviews, and it was refreshing and nice. I like him better than I did before, which I thought was impossible since I liked him a hell of a lot already... great stuff

Cynthia F.
Cynthia F.

Probably one of the best articles I've ever read. Seriously. The writer has a gift, man. Not to mention how human he made Donald seem, to those who see him as a God. He's still human. Who barely sleeps. Who has dreams. Who's been afraid. Who's not done living.

I enjoyed reading this. Over and over. great job to Bill Jensen and Donald.

Dwilchoc23
Dwilchoc23

It's because black women only go for a certain kind of brotha. I don't think too many black women are going for guys like Donald Glover. I have never seen it.

guest
guest

I'm down with the Black girls of every single culture

Ltplaytyme
Ltplaytyme

Coming from a Black man that likes women of other ethnicities my motivation is that I would like to conquer the world...one country at a time.

drewslugmoar
drewslugmoar

Your question is kind of stupid. I suspect you are a) a racist prick that feels threatened at every sight of a mixed color couple or b) some kid that has not thought a lot about his assumptions. Either way the correct stats are not with you. Most black men are with black women (also women of other races cannot resist a black man).

Swag-1
Swag-1

@Guestj Because MOST, not ALL black women want a thug of a black man who pays bills and respects his woman, it doesn't happen, they dont want highly educated black men who aren't thugs.

LOVE YOU DONALD

bbg
bbg

You can't just make a general statement like that, especially when it isn't true. Some of it has to do with your environment. Like he said, there weren't a lot of black people at NYU. If you're constantly surrounded by people of other races, you have to adapt to your surroundings. I wouldn't be surprised if black woman played him because of his taste in music or his affinity for the performing arts.

anon
anon

The writer has a gift? What are you talking about? This article was terribly written, if you don't see this you know nothing about writing

GuestJ
GuestJ

Ignoring your ad hominem attacks, I will reply to the second half of your post:

"Either way the correct stats are not with you. Most black men are with black women"

Yes, just as most women are with Average Joes, not hunky millionaires that plunder the high seas and sing in platinum selling rock bands when not on call in the emergency room; that is, people take what is available when it comes to partners.

"(also women of other races cannot resist a black man)."

That's certainly true. Black men commit a disproportionately high number of sexual assaults, and these black males choose to rape white women the majority of the time they commit rape*.

Oddly enough, rape is the only major crime that isn't intra-racial, blacks are most likely to murder other blacks, to violently assault other blacks, but they must travel out of their way to rape white women the majority of the time, as well as disproportionately high numbers of Hispanic and Asian women.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R...

D-Rae
D-Rae

I think you may have jumped all over the reader's question a bit prematurely. GuestJ's question is not racist; I'm fairly sure what they were getting at is the popular trend in the Black dating scene that is Black men dating women of other races and passing up on the sisters. That subject is quite multi-faceted, complicated, and isn't best hashed out over an internet forum like this.

It sounds like the question from GuestJ was coming from a place of frustration, either as a Black woman has been passed up for a White girl, or as a Black man who doesn't get why someone would wan't to stray from dating other Black women because we are so lovely. Either way, I don't like the original question that was posted, as it presupposes that interracial dating is some sort of problem. It's not. Ugh, fuck rap cool.

cdeeq
cdeeq

you're forgetting that there are a lot of highly educated black women who aren't quasi-members of destiny's child. i think donald just dates women who make themselves available. numbers-wise, there are just not a lot of black women around.

Scott G.Brown
Scott G.Brown

White women are at his disposal more readily than black women, and he has risen to Stardom which is enough to put any woman on the chase.When I saw him on 30 Rock, I thought that he was from India, and he was only miles from where I was born. He has the Poise, Youth, and Talent that many desire-Break a Leg, Donald Glover! Fly to the Moon!

 
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