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Donald Glover

Donald Glover

Born Donald McKinley Glover, Jr., on Sept. 25, 1983 at Edwards Air Force Base in California, he was raised in Stone Mountain, GA by his parents, Donald Glover, Sr., a postal worker, and Beverly, who ran a daycare center. The Glovers were also foster parents, which required their son to share most of his early years with a steady stream of children who often demanded the lion's share of his parents' attention. Glover channeled his feelings into a wide variety of pursuits, from acting and skateboarding to puppetry and rock and roll, and along the way, developed a fascination for television and comedy. He had to cultivate his interest in the former through clandestine means, as his family were Jehovah's Witnesses and restricted certain programs, which required Glover to record the audio for shows like "The Simpsons" and later listen to them in his room before drifting off to sleep.A good student but also a disruptive presence in class, Glover was sent to Georgia's DeKalb School of the Arts to channel his energy into studying drama and playwriting. He continued to pursue writing as a student at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. While there, he also began exploring improvisation, and joined the sketch comedy group Wicked Wicked Hammerkatz, where he met fellow students Dominic Dierkes and D.C. Pierson. The trio gained further exposure as members of the Upright Citizens Brigade before forming their own group, Derrick Comedy, which later developed an online following with their edgy video shorts.While still a student at NYU, Glover was contacted by "30 Rock" executive producer David Miner, who had gotten wind of his work through Upright Citizens Brigade veteran Amy Poehler. Miner and Tina Fey eventually made Glover part of the sitcom's writing staff, where he worked as executive story editor, penning many of the most surreal lines for the show's most extreme characters, including Tracy Morgan's unhinged Tracy Jordan and Jack McBride's naïve page Kenneth, who hailed from Glover's home town of Stone Mountain. He also penned two scripts for the show, and shared a Writers Guild of America Award with his fellow scribes for Best Comedy Series in 2009 before departing the show in 2008.The exposure afforded by his work on "30 Rock" gave Glover's profile a boost in the comedy world, and he soon set out to establish his career outside of the series. With his Derrick Comedy partners, he co-wrote, produced, scored and starred in the independent feature "Mystery Team" (2009), about a trio of outcasts who cling to their childhood pastime as neighborhood detectives. Though it only received a limited theatrical release, critical response was positive. That same year, Glover joined the cast of "Community," a sitcom about a group of misfit students at a Colorado community college. His character, former high school quarterback Troy Barnes, drew several personality traits from Glover's own life, including a Jehovah's Witness upbringing and a hidden passion for "nerdy" pursuits like interpretive dance. Initially a self-obsessed but secretly insecure figure, Barnes learned to loosen up through his friendship with fellow student Abed (Danny Pudi), a quirky film devotee with an apparent lack of a social filter. Together, the pair devoted much of their screen time to ridiculous pranks and skits, which earned them a dedicated following among the show's audience. In 2010, he starred in his first "Comedy Central Presents" (1998- ) special before receiving the Rising Star Award from the 2010 Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, Canada.In addition to acting and comedy, Glover actively pursued a career as a music artist and DJ. He recorded electronic music under the moniker "mcDJ," but gained a following as the rapper Childish Gambino, a moniker he derived from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator. Initially a broad tribute-cum-parody of rap tropes and stereotypes, Glover's songs eventually addressed more personal topics, including childhood loneliness, romantic struggles and middle-class African-American teenagers who, like himself, found themselves caught between hip-hop and white cultures. Glover had disowned a 2002 release, The Younger I Am, and eventually found his voice in a series of CDs and mix tapes between 2008 and 2010, including I Am Just a Rapper and I am Just a Rapper 2. In early 2011, he launched his first music tour, titled IAMDONALD, which played 23 shows in a frenetic 33-day schedule. Childish Gambino's first two albums, Camp (2011) and Because the Internet (2013) garnered generally positive reviews. However, Glover's decision to leave "Community" during the show's fifth season was met with disappointment by fans, although his revelation that he was leaving to create his own TV series stemmed the hurt. Glover continued his music and stand-up careers for the next several years, while also appearing in small roles in films ranging from raunchy romantic comedy "The To-Do List" (2013) to kids' literature adaptation "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" (2014), as well as male-stripper sequel "Magic Mike XXL" (2015) and science fiction hit "The Martian" (2015). Glover also appeared in two episodes of Lena Dunham's "Girls" (HBO 2012-17) in 2013. Glover's own series, "Atlanta" (FX 2016- ) premiered in the fall of 2016 to widespread critical acclaim. In the series, set in his hometown's underground hip-hop scene, Glover played an earnest but aimless young man who begins managing his cousin's rap career. The show's offbeat tone, which Glover claimed was inspired by "Twin Peaks" (ABC 1990-91), and its explorations of black masculinity were particularly praised. Glover won two Emmy Awards for the show's first season, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. Glover followed this triumph with a third Childish Gambino album, Awaken, My Love (2016), and the news that he had been cast as the young Lando Calrissian in the "Star Wars" film revealing Han Solo's origin story. Glover, who had been actively promoted on social media as a potential new Spider-Man early in his TV career, finally joined the franchise as petty criminal Aaron Davis in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017).