“The born to Donald Glover Sr. and
“The way I look at things, I have only a couple more years of being dangerous.
” It’s a bold statement one would expect to hear from an highly volatile political leader or a malicious adversary. However, he’s far from a vicious entity. He’s an innovator, an entrepreneur, and an absolute master of his craft. He’s fought his way through the most aggressive and most competitive industries to become a true powerhouse in the field. He’s recognized internationally on stage, on television, and even on the big screen by all ages. This statement was declared by Donald Glover, more commonly known as Childish Gambino, in an interview with Matthew Shaer. Whether he’s working behind the scenes or the star of the show, he consistently succeeds in proving he’s a more than capable talent.On September 25, 1983, Donald McKinley Glover was born to Donald Glover Sr.
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and Beverly Glover at the Edwards Air Force Base in California. They eventually moved to Stone Mountain, Georgia near Atlanta where they lived in a predominantly white suburb and were one of the few black families in the area. The Glover family consisted of his parents, two siblings, and several foster children which often created a chaotic household (Buckman). In high school, Glover showed interest in music and plays, and was voted “Most Likely to Write for the Simpsons” (Lynch). He studied at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and graduated with a degree in dramatic writing in 2006.
During his time there, he was engaged in various sketch-comedy groups while producing several comedy videos with classmates that went viral on YouTube. Those videos caught the attention of producers at NBC’s “30 Rock” which allowed him the opportunity to be hired as a writer with frequent cameos on the show. In 2009, Glover left the show to pursue other projects such as his first feature film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He was also cast on NBC’s sitcom “Community” — “a career-defining role that he would play through the show’s fifth season in 2014” (Lynch). That same year, he released a series of rap mixtapes under the name Childish Gambino. From that point on, Glover’s career began to really take off.In 2010, he held his first half-hour stand-up comedy special on Comedy Central, and in 2011 he aired his first hour long comedy special titled “Weirdo.” 2011 also saw the release of his debut studio album “Camp” which featured the hit single “Heartbeat” and received positive reviews.
2013 introduced his second album Because The Internet, an LP that displayed his ability to establish something refreshing in the Hip Hop/Rap industry. In 2016, he released “Awaken, My Love!” which contained the hit “Redbone.” It was a completely different sound from his previous projects and served to confirm the unique vocal range and lyricism he possessed.
In recent years Donald Glover has even starred in several blockbuster films such as Magic Mike XXL, The Martian, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. His future filmography will include playing the young Lando Calrissian in Star Wars and Simba in the remake of The Lion King. While he’s not working on blockbusters, Glover is involved with the hit tv-series Atlanta. He created, executive produces, co-writes, and even stars in what has “transformed him from a well-respected performer into one of Hollywood’s most exciting and in-demand creative minds” (Shaer). A comedian, a writer, a producer, an actor, a rapper, and a singer are all the occupations of this one individual. Donald Glover is the embodiment of the creative spirit and a reflection of the themes in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s writings titled Creativity and Flow.
Csikszentmihalyi explains that the concept of creativity is more complex than commonly believed. It’s a social interaction between people and certain contexts. He specifies that creativity can be broken down into two groups: Creativity with a capital C, and creativity with a lowercase c. Creativity with a capital C has the means to truly impact an element of culture and can subdivided into three components which form his “Systems Model” theory.
The first unit is called domain which includes the shared knowledge integrated into the culture of individual societies and humanity altogether. The second unit is the field which consists of supervisors of the domain, deciding what novel ideas deserve to be acknowledged in the culture. The final unit is the person who utilizes the domain and creates a novel idea to be accepted into the domain for future generations to have access to. Glover’s tv-series Atlanta is the perfect representation of unconventional creative flare. The show is a fresh take on television and verified it was something crucial: “a cerebral not-quite-comedy that uses the 30-minute-sitcom format to explore issues of race, class, ambition, friendship, relationships, parenthood, and other endlessly complex subjects” (Shaer). Atlanta revolves around Earnest Marks, a Princeton dropout returning to Atlanta to manage the rap career of his cousin and his complicated relationship with his girlfriend and their toddler. The show is applauded for its diversity because both the cast and the writer’s room consist only of people of color.
It’s a modern television series created by a black man in the United States “wrapped up in questions of what it means to be young and black in America today” (Shaer). He’s changed the domain of the entertainment by pushing the boundaries in order to exceed traditional thought. He’s given people of color a medium to represent themselves better and critics in the field praise him for accomplishing that feat.
Csikszentmihalyi defines Creativity as “any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain” and that’s just what Glover has done (Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Intervention).Most worthy of admiration is his creative mastery of music. Glover is a maestro of the art and for him it is all about the experience. He makes music he enjoys and has an autotelic personality in that aspect. According to Csikszentmihalyi, to have an autotelic personality is to live for an autotelic experience which is “one that is done not with the expectation of some future benefit, but simply the doing itself is the reward” (Flow: The Psychology of the Optimal Experience). This allows a certain freedom and a more creative space because Glover genuinely enjoys the process.
It shows in his work which blends novel patterns, fun lyricism, and unconventional topics. This has established Donald Glover’s alias Childish Gambino to flourish and become a driving force in music.As Donald Glover conveys himself through these projects he discovers more and grows in the process. As a result we learn something too because of his investment in creativity.
In the same interview with Matthew Shaer he commented that “this idea that the only thing stopping you is your own imagination–that’s beautiful, but you still need structure, you still need boundaries, even if you’re making them yourself.” He is a versatile individual who continues to inspire and influence culture. It’s his enjoyment of the experience and capacity to implement new, stimulating concepts that makes Donald Glover a creative visionary.