He first came to attention for his work with Derrick Comedy while a student at NYU and, with the help of Tina Fey, was hired at the age of 23 to become a writer for the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. He later portrayed community college student Troy Barnes on the NBC sitcom Community. He currently stars in the FX series Atlanta, which he also created and occasionally directs. For his work on Atlanta, Glover has 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.
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 was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 2015, Best Rap Album for Because the Internet and Best Rap Performance for his single "3005". Glover's third album, "Awaken, My Love!", was released on December 2, 2016, spawning the hit single "Redbone", which peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Glover was born at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia. His mother, Beverly (née Smith), is a retired daycare provider, and his father, Donald Sr., is a retired postal worker. His parents also served as foster parents for 14 years. Glover was raised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. He attended DeKalb School of the Arts and was voted "Most Likely to Write for The Simpsons" in his high school yearbook.
Glover graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in dramatic writing in 2006.
In 2006, Glover was contacted by 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 series 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 stage name, Childish Gambino, came from the Wu-Tang Clan's name generator. On June 5, 2008, he released an independent album, titled Sick Boi. 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 the release of the NBC comedy series Community on September 17, 2009 as the character 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 left the show during the fifth season, appearing in only five episodes, as his character was written off by accepting an offer to sail around the world as a condition of inheriting $14.3 million worth of stock, as left to him by the character Pierce Hawthorne (played by Chevy Chase). While many speculated 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 much more personal than that, 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 and final season, Glover ultimately declined, believing that both the show and the audience would be better served by the closure of his character being left out of the story.
On September 17, 2009 (the same day as the series premiere of Community), Childish Gambino released the independent album 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. Robert Scahill added his producing expertise helping with the majority of the tracks. The track listings for those mixtapes consist of the name of the song "he" raps, followed by the song he raps over. His second album, Culdesac, was set to be released on July 2, 2010, but a couple of last minute additions caused the album to be delayed for a day. The album was made available on July 3. Glover has stated in interviews that on Sick Boi and Poindexter he felt he had to hide behind gimmicks, such as pink hoodies, but with his subsequent projects, he has touched on more personal subject matter, including family, schoolyard bullying, troubled romantic relationships, suicidal thoughts, and alcoholism. He has disowned his 2005 album, The Younger I Get, as the too-raw ramblings of what he calls a "decrepit Drake."
Glover's stand-up special aired on Comedy Central on March 19, 2010. 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 awarded an audition and the role instead went to Andrew Garfield. He would later reveal that he was never contacted by anyone from Sony Pictures for the role. Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis, who announced 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. Glover was featured in Gap's 2010 Holiday ad campaign. On March 8, 2011 Glover released the EP via his official website. On December 8, 2011, Glover released a duet with Danny Pudi titled "Troy & Abed's Christmas Rap", which is considered to be the very song that brought Glover to fame. He DJs and produces electronic music under the moniker "mcDJ" (pronounced "M-C-D-J"). His music is often made available for free download via his website.
On December 1, 2010, Glover released the first track off of his EP titled "Be Alone". He released the next track, "Freaks and Geeks", as well as a five-song track list, on February 11, 2011. On February 25, Glover released the dates for the IAMDONALD tour and also his very first music video for "Freaks and Geeks". The music video was shot by Dan Eckman, the director of the Derrick Comedy troupe. This song was later used in an Adidas commercial featuring Dwight Howard.
On March 16, 2011, Glover hosted the mtvU Woodie Awards held live at South By Southwest. On March 24, 2011, Glover taped his one-hour comedy special Weirdo for Comedy Central; it aired on November 19.
Glover appeared at the 2011 Bonnaroo Music Festival on June 9 in the 'This Tent' as Childish Gambino and June 11 at 'The Comedy Theater' with Bill Bailey performing stand up. Comedy Central streamed the comedy live on their website.
On May 4, 2011, in an interview with TheHipHopUpdate, Glover revealed that he was working on an LP, to be released in September. On July 25, 2011, Glover announced that his new album would be titled Camp. On October 8, during his Orlando concert, he announced Camp would be released on November 15, 2011. Glover worked with friend and film composer Ludwig Göransson on the debut album. On August 20, 2011, at the Los Angeles Rock The Bells concert, he gave an interview to AllHipHop.com, and he announced to the crowd that he had signed with Glassnote Records. On September 17, 2011, his first official single, "Bonfire", was released. This would later become part of Camp.
The IAMDONALD tour made 24 stops in 34 days, beginning with Ames, Iowa, on April 16, and finishing with Minneapolis on May 19. In between, this included stops at music venues in Las Vegas, Houston, Washington, and Atlanta. The tour was a one-man live show that consisted of rap, comedy, and video segments.
The Sign-Up Tour was Glover's next pre-album tour. He visited 11 cities over the course of 38 days in October and November 2011. Glover made a website for the tour called Camp Gambino on November 19, four days after his album released. The tour featured special guest Danny Brown and made 20 stops during the course of 32 days along a dates in California in December. On March 14, 2012, several dates on the CAMP tour were postponed due to a fractured foot Glover suffered on March 10, while performing in Tampa, Florida. The tour began in Austin, Texas on April 5 and ended August 10 in Hollywood.
On January 11, 2012, Childish Gambino announced on his website that a new mixtape would be coming out soon. On April 2, he released a new song, "Eat Your Vegetables", through his website. On May 14, Funkmaster Flex premiered "Unnecessary," featuring Schoolboy Q. On May 16, Gambino released "We Ain't Them" through his website, produced by himself and frequent collaborator Ludwig. On May 22, Glover appeared on Das Racist's radio show "Chillin' Island" where he premiered a new song, "Tell Me," which featured Himanshu Suri, aka Heems from Das Racist. On May 26, Glover released "Black Faces", featuring Nipsey Hussle and produced by Boi-1da. On May 30, he released a third track, "Silk Pillow," featuring Beck and produced by both Glover and Beck. On June 25, Glover revealed that the mixtape was to be released on July 4, 2012. On June 26, Glover premiered another new track, on Sway in the Morning (on Shade 45), entitled "One Up," featuring his brother, Steve G. Lover. That same day, Glover stated that the mixtape would be titled Royalty despite previous statements that it would not be called that. On July 4, 2012, Glover released Royalty for free via digital download. On July 7, 2012, Gambino released the track, "Body," featuring Prodigy, which did not make the cut for the mixtape. On July 24, 2012, he released the music video for "Fire Fly" through his VEVO account on YouTube.
On August 21, 2012, BBC Radio 1 premiered Leona Lewis' new song, "Trouble" off her upcoming album Glassheart, which features Childish Gambino. The song was available for purchase via iTunes on October 7, and peaked at #7 on the UK Singles Chart the following week, making it his first UK top 10 single. On November 4, 2012 Ludwig Göransson said in an interview with Portable that 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 in which he would star, write, and executive produce. Consequently, Glover decided to reduce his work for NBC, and only appeared in the first five episodes of Community's 13-episode 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.
On October 6, 2013, Glover announced on Twitter that his second studio album was completed. He further announced this at Homecoming Week at Penn State University, stating "I got a new album coming out soon, so this is the last time we’re gonna play a lot of this shit." On October 8, 2013, he announced its title as Because the Internet and revealed that it would be released in December 2013. On October 21, 2013, Glover released the first single "3005", and announced a release date for the album as December 10, 2013. On February 15, 2014, the rapper launched his Deep Web Tour in the UK. On February 27, Childish Gambino was scheduled to begin the United States portion of his tour with a gig at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California. On June 6, 2014, RIAA certified Heartbeat Gold – making it Glover's first certification, and then on July 18, 2014, RIAA also certified 3005 Gold, making it Glover's second certification.
Besides music, 2013 was a notable year for Glover's writing independent of NBC. The short film Clapping for the Wrong Reasons was produced by Glover as a prelude to his screenplay Because the Internet. The screenplay is a continuation from the last song on his studio album Camp, "That Power". The screenplay uses the soundtrack from Because the Internet as background music for the entire piece.
On October 2, 2014, he released a new mixtape titled STN MTN, and the next day he released an EP titled Kauai. The mixtape and the EP follow the story that was last told in Because The Internet and are meant to be a joint project instead of separate projects. On October 10, 2014, Ubisoft revealed that they had collaborated with Glover to incorporate his song, "Crawl" into Far Cry 4. On December 5, 2014 Glover was nominated for two Grammy Awards. He was a contender for Best Rap Album for Because The Internet (Glassnote Records) and Best Rap Performance for his single, "3005."
FX ordered the pilot of Glover's show Atlanta to a 10-episode season in October 2015. Atlanta premiered September 6, 2016 on FX. In 2017, for his work on Atlanta, Glover won two Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy. Later that year, he also won two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, making him the first black person to win an Emmy for the category of Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. 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 version of Deadpool that Glover is writing with his brother Steven, is set to release in 2018. Due to this, Atlanta is not slated to return until 2018.
On March 21, 2015 Glover won an mtvU Woodies Award for Best Video Woodie for the song "Sober" from the Kauai EP. As of February 2016, Because The Internet has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipping over 500,000 copies. In June 2016, Gambino released an app titled "PHAROS Earth," allowing fans to purchase tickets to a listening event of his new album scheduled to release in September. The listening event took place in Joshua Tree, California.
In mid-November Glover revealed his new album titled "Awaken, My Love!", which was released on December 2, 2016. Glover released "Awaken, My Love!" via Virtual Reality Vinyl, he stated that there will be a "Limited edition" but details on it were sparse. The release includes two 45 RPM 12" vinyl records, a poster, and digital downloads of "Me and Your Mama" and "Redbone", the latter of which peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was released on December 2, 2016 and was certified gold on June 29, 2017. The album marked a genre change for Glover as it contains mostly funk influences as opposed to his usual hip-hop.
On June 2017, at the end of his performance at the Governor's Ball, Glover told the audience "I'll see you for the last Gambino album" before walking off stage. This had lead many people to believe that the next album he will release will be his last. On June 6, 2017, during an event to promote his show, Atlanta, he revealed to Huffington Post that he felt that his music career was no longer "necessary" and he had added on by saying “There’s nothing worst than like a third sequel, like a third movie and we’re like, ‘again?’” he said. “You know, 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 played Aaron Davis in the film Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). On October 21, 2016, Glover was confirmed to be playing Lando Calrissian in the 2018 untitled Han Solo film, while in February 2017, Jon Favreau announced that his remake of The Lion King will star Glover as the voice of Simba.
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 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." He has also spoken of his being influenced by Salvador Dali.
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 brother named Stephen, who also works with him as a writer for Atlanta.
During his Golden Globe acceptance speech in January 2017, Glover revealed he had a child, a baby boy born in early 2016. At the Governor's Ball in early June 2017, Glover revealed the son was named Legend, before performing "Baby Boy" in tribute to his son.
Glover revealed in his 2017 Emmys acceptance speech that his girlfriend was pregnant with their second child.Camp (2011)
Because the Internet (2013)
"Awaken, My Love!" (2016)