The Evolution of Donald Glover, From YouTube Star to Lando Calrissian (Videos)
Now that Glover’s set to join “Star Wars,” we look back at the actor and musician’s career that began with making sketch comedies made with his friends from NYU
Jeremy Fuster | October 21, 2016 @ 3:00 PM
Last Updated: October 21, 2016 @ 3:15 PM
Over the past decade, Donald Glover has proven that he is an artist that won't be tied down by expectations. Whether it's the zany humor of "Community" or the personal raps he has written as Childish Gambino, Glover has experimented with a variety of moods. Now all that experience comes together in his new FX show, "Atlanta," which combines dark, dry humor with an earnest look at modern black culture in the South.
After graduating from NYU in 2006, Glover teamed up with college friends Dominic Dierkes and DC Pierson to form sketch comedy troupe Derrick Comedy. It quickly became known for its edgy humor, such as in this sketch where Glover plays a spelling bee pronouncer who asks the contestants to spell out a very NSFW slur.
Glover also starred in the Derrick Comedy sketch, "Girls Are Not To Be Trusted," in which he played a jilted film school student who hijacks one of his classes to turn all the short film projects into expletive-laden rants about his ex-girlfriend.
While working on Derrick Comedy, Glover was asked to join the writing team for "30 Rock" after producer David Miner found some of his work at NYU. Glover also had cameo appearances on the NBC sitcom, including a live episode in which he played a younger Tracy Jordan during flashback sequences.
Derrick Comedy's final big project came in 2009 when they released their feature film, "Mystery Team." The film satirizes kids' detective books as the trio plays a team of immature detectives who decide they're going to prove their worth when a little girl asks them to catch her parents' killer.
It was "Mystery Team" that got Glover an audition for what would become his breakthrough role on the NBC series "Community." Fro 2009-2014, he played Troy Barnes, a former high school football star who finds a new identity as an emotional nerd at Greendale Community College.
On the same day that "Community" premiered, Glover released an independent rap album under his stage name, Childish Gambino. He became known for lyrics that allowed fans a glimpse into his personal life with clever one-liners like "I got more tail than that Petco" and pop-culture references like "I'm too fly, Jeff Goldblum." His 2013 album, "Because the Internet," earned Glover two Grammy nominations.
In 2010, Glover's fans started an online campaign to get Marvel to consider him for the role of Peter Parker in "The Amazing Spider-Man." Though it didn't get him an audition, he did later play Miles Morales in the animated series "Ultimate Spider-Man."
In 2013, Glover started a new chapter in his career when he signed a deal with FX to star, write, and produce his own series, "Atlanta." Following the deal, Glover gave his farewell to "Community" in the show's fifth season.
Now "Atlanta" has premiered on FX to strong initial reviews. Critics have praised Glover for bringing his experience growing up in Georgia and building a hip-hop career to his story of a young man trying to become his rapper cousin's manager. Glover has tapped Hiro Murai, who directed his Childish Gambino music videos, to helm most of the episodes.
Along with "Atlanta," Glover is slated to star in "Spider-Man: Homecoming," though his role is yet to be revealed. He is also planning to release a new Gambino album, "Pharos," later this year.
But his biggest role will come in 2018, when he will join the "Star Wars" franchise as a younger version of Lando Calrissian in the Han Solo anthology film starring Alden Ehrenreich. In "The Empire Strikes Back," Lando was introduced as the administrator of Cloud City and a close friend of Han Solo who was forced to betray his buddy by Darth Vader. Eventually, Lando listened to his heart and joined the rebels, leading an attack on the Second Death Star in "Return of the Jedi."