Is There Anything Donald Glover Can’t Do?

Above: All that talent and he can also grow a flawless beard
Above: All that talent and he can also grow a flawless beard

Remember when James Franco was the guy in Hollywood who never met a job he’d turn down? He was an acclaimed actor in both drama and comedy roles (a Golden Globe winner for his role in TNT’s James Dean and a nominee for his role in Pineapple Express), he was pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia (he has since published one novel and is enrolled as a PhD student at Yale) and he’s also a painter and director. It seemed like he could do anything.

But Franco has made a few reputation-damaging missteps along the way, and naturally there was someone waiting in the wings to take his place as Hollywood’s resident triple (or quadruple +) threat. In the song “Hold You Down” from his first studio album, Donald Glover raps “I won’t stop until they say James Franco is the white Donald Glover”. That time may have come. Hot off two Golden Globe wins for his FX original show Atlanta, Donald Glover doesn’t have any intention of slowing down now—and it doesn’t seem like anyone wants him to anyway.

Let’s start at the beginning. Glover got his big writing break at the age of 23 when Tina Fey hired him as a regular writer for 30 Rock. He became a household name as an actor for playing Troy on Community for five seasons. During that time, he also found success as a standup comedian, receiving the Rising Comedy Star award at the Just For Laughs festival in 2010. Add his music career to that—he’d already released several mix tapes and a studio album by the time he was 28—and it was becoming pretty clear Donald Glover was capable of big things.

As Childish Gambino, Glover was nominated for two Grammy’s for his second studio album, Because the Internet. In 2013, he also started working on Atlanta—which he’d signed on to write, produce and star in. The show debuted in 2016 to critical acclaim and thanks to the success of the first season, Glover has signed an exclusive deal with FX to create and develop more shows for the network.

Somehow in the middle of the Atlanta hype, Glover managed to find time to record and drop another studio album as Childish Gambino, entitled Awaken, My Love!. He doesn’t rap a single line on the entire album, instead showing off his falsetto and a singing voice that he’s worked hard to cultivate. According to the New York Times, the album sounds like the 1970s and is “at once a homage and a parody, equally aware of that era’s excesses and its glories, of the way that the most memorable 1970s R&B merged sensuality, activism, humor, toughness, outlandishness, futurism, soul roots, wild eccentricity and utopian community spirit.”

FX won’t be releasing season two of Atlanta until 2018 and that has a lot to do with Glover’s extremely hectic film schedule. He’s appearing in Spider-Man: Homecoming which comes out this July, he was cast as Lando Calrissian in the 2018 untitled Han Solo film, and it was recently announced that he will voice Simba in Jon Favreau’s remake of The Lion King. All that going on and he still had time to welcome a son with his girlfriend in early 2016.

At 33, Glover has already accomplished more than most and his success is poised to continue. At this point it seems like he can do no wrong and that’s a pretty good place to be— just ask James Franco’s out-of-left-field stint on General Hospital.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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