January 28, 2017


Future Black History Month: Donald Glover's Vast Talents

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Fuse is once again celebrating an extended Black History Month by highlighting a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Black History before our very eyes. For day one, we're looking at Donald Glover, the 33-year-old who's been entering us in myriad forms for almost a decade. His rise is well-known: NYU, Derrick Comedy internet sketch group, writer on 30 Rock, actor on Community, stand-up comedy, world takeover.

That takeover—which is in full swing right now—sees Glover in blockbusters, on a TV series of his own creation and stewardship, and in our ears, as Childish Gambino. In December, he used his new album "Awaken, My Love!" to swerve away from his seven prior mixtapes and two LPs to give us a rap-less fusion of funk, R&B, soul, blues, rock—nearly everything that's not a rap beat with bars on top. (None of this was necessary: 2013's Because the Internet album and the next year's STN MTN mixtape showed him further mastering the art of widely appealing, nerdiness-threaded, Donald-specific hip-hop.)

A few months before "Awaken, My Love!" came Atlanta, a hugely lauded, deeply unique FX TV series featuring Glover as creator, writer, star and, sometimes, director. It was rarely if ever discussed in cultural discourse without specific mention—or thorough investigation—of its commitment to centering around the multitudes that create the black American experience. “I needed people to understand I see Atlanta as a beautiful metaphor for black people,” he told New York magazine's Rembert Browne. The show's writing staff is completely black, and largely new to TV.

In January, Atlanta won Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes; Glover beat out Jeffrey Tambor, Anthony Anderson, Gael Garcia Bernal and Nick Nolte for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Musical, or Comedy. In his speech, he thanked "all the black folks in Atlanta...just for being alive and just for doing just amazing, and being amazing people." His show went two-for-two that night.

A supergeek raised as a Jehovah's Witness among siblings and foster children in the Atlanta suburb of Stone Mountain, Glover was an outcast from the start. He told Marc Maron on WTF in 2011:

"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."

That was one of countless times Glover has addressed race pointedly and honestly. “I don't think white people know how much effort in my day is put into making them feel comfortable," he later said to Noisey. He once told Complex:

"I don’t want young black kids to aspire to be rappers or ballers. Even lawyers and doctors—those are service positions. I want them to be coders. They can make their own worlds then. They don’t need anybody else. I love hearing those kids’ ideas, all these kids on the internet."

Next, he'll appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming and play a younger version of Billy Dee Williams' character Lando Calrissian in a Star Wars standalone movie depicting Han Solo's origin story. He'll also be raising his own little coder, a son, born—in private, tabloid-averting fashion—in 2016 with a woman whose identity Glover guards. 

Wherever 'Bino goes, the deal is sealed: We'll be following.

Fuse is celebrating Future Black History all month long. Tune in to Fuse and come back to Fuse.tv every day for profiles, videos and more. Find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder, and get to know Donald Glover more below: