Donald Glover: 8 Cool Facts You Might Not Know About The Actor And Musician

Donald Glover on Atlanta

You may know him as Troy Barnes, or perhaps as a young Lando Calrissian, or maybe even as Childish Gambino, his rapper alter ego. Yet, how much do you really know about Donald Glover, the man behind all of those personas and more?

Born at Edwards Air Force Base in 1983 but raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Donald Glover would grow up to be one of the most respected and exciting talents of his generation, proving that he, to quote his Saturday Night Live opening monologue song, “really can do anything.” He is a master of busting guts (as evident by his 2012 stand-up special Donald Glover: Weirdo), as well as busting rhymes (made evident by his three studio albums and five Grammy wins), and is the creator and star of Atlanta, one of the most commercially and critically acclaimed shows to come from FX.

Even it is true that Donald Glover can pretty much do no wrong, there is more to his success than meets the eye. Discover the secrets to what makes him one of the fiercest triple-threats in the business, and a few other bits of trivia, with the following eight behind-the-scenes facts.

Donald Glover on 30 Rock

Donald Glover Was An NYU Resident Advisor When He Was Hired To Write For 30 Rock

In a 2018 profile on Donald Glover from The New Yorker, Tina Fey says that the he actually had a lot of input on the creation of Jack McBrayer's 30 Rock character Kenneth, whom Glover claims he had a lot in common with at the time, being a "a wide-eyed kid, eager to please." Actually, when he landed the gig writing for the future hit NBC sitcom in 2006, the then 23-year-old was still calling his New York University dorm room home and was even serving as one of its resident advisors. A couple years later, he would try his hand at performing on the very sketch show that series was making fun of.

Donald Glover on Saturday Night Live

Donald Glover Auditioned To Play Barack Obama On Saturday Night Live

In 2018, Donald Glover graced the stage of Studio 8H as host of Saturday Night Live, during which he joked that he was "still pissed" at not getting a spot in the cast when he tried out a decade earlier. In fact, during one of his two audition attempts, he specifically made a bid to be the show's resident Barack Obama in 2008, only to lose to Fred Armisen. Thankfully, he would get even closer to stardom after getting cast in another beloved NBC comedy.

Donald Glover on Community

Dan Harmon Thinks Donald Glover Leaving Was The "Death Of" Community

Actually, more so than Donald Glover can thank Community for his success, Community can thank Glover for the series' success... and demise, apparently. Just ask creator Dan Harmon, who talked to The Hollywood Reporter about how the actor, was so naturally gifted that the writers "literally started writing in the script, 'And then Donald says something funny." The producer doubled down on his praise with a claim regarding the show's destiny after Glover left his role as Troy Barnes early into the fifth season:

I needed to convince myself that Donald leaving wasn't the death of the show, but now that it's all over, I think we can agree that it was.

I think many would agree with Dan Harmon on this. However, some would also agree that one of Donald Glover's main reasons for leaving Community was worth it.

Donald Glover in the video for Childish Gambino's This Is America

A Wu-Tang Clan Rap Name Generator Inspired Donald Glover’s Stage Name

While his rap career was not the only reason that Donald Glover moved on prematurely from Community, it is clear from chart-topping singles and Grammy wins that making it a priority was a good choice. What is not clear to all people, however, is what inspired his unique stage name: Childish Gambino. During an interview on Fuse's Top Twenty Countdown, Glover revealed that it was easy as plugging his birth name into the Wu-Tang Clan's online rap name generator, which you can try for yourself here.

Lakeith Stanfield, Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry on Atlanta

Donald Glover Had To "Trojan-horse" FX Into Greenlighting Atlanta

For its dark comedy, dreamy surrealism, and heavy cultural commentary, Atlanta is one of the most inventive and widely discussed TV series in recent memory. That being said, selling the risky concept to FX was no easy feat as Stephen Glover, the brother of creator and star Donald Glover, shared to The New Yorker:

Donald promised, ‘Earn and [Brian Tyree Henry's character] Al work together to make it in the rough music industry. Al got famous for shooting someone and now he’s trying to deal with fame, and I’ll have a new song for him every week. Darius [who is played Lakeith Stanfield] will be the funny one, and the gang’s going to be all together.’ That was the Trojan horse.

While that "Trojan horse" certainly matches the basic root of what Atlanta is, its most devoted fans admirers know that the Emmy-winning series is much bolder than that, making Donald Glover's slight fib in the pitch a thankful necessity. It calls to mind if the same method was used (or should have been) when he was developing an animated series based on a wisecracking Marvel character.

Deadpool on the animated Ultimate Spider-Man series

Donald Glover Wrote An Animated Deadpool Series Pilot That Never Got Made

In 2017, FXX (a sister network to Atlanta's home) announced that Donald Glover and his brother, Stephen, were developing an animated series about Deadpool, only to have the plug pulled just a year later over "creative differences." Both Rob Liefeld, who co-created the Merc with a Mouth, and Ryan Reynolds, star and producer of the 2016 live action adaptation and sequel, voiced disappointment over the cancellation before the show even made it to air. Yet, it was Glover who got the last laugh (and in way that would make the Marvel anti-hero proud) by tweeting screenshots of the pilot in its entirety.

Donald Glover in Solo: A Star Wars Story

Donald Glover’s Lando Casting Allowed Him To Get Ahead In Line At Airport Security

Despite the Deadpool controversy, 2018 was still a good year for Donald Glover for releasing Season 2 of Atlanta, hosting Saturday Night Live, and, of course, playing Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story. While the honor to play a young Billy Dee Williams was rewarding enough, Glover actually revealed in a behind-the-scenes featurette about the prequel that, just recently after his casting was announced, an airport security agent allowed him to jump the line for an autograph. However, the attendant referred to him as "Lando" instead of his real name, something the actor claimed was not unusual at that time.

Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther

Donald Glover "Had Some Cool Insight" On The Black Panther Script

As for one more reason that 2018 was a good year for Donald Glover: if you paid attention through the end credits of Black Panther (like any true Marvel fan should), you might have noticed his name under the "Special Thanks" section. The actor, and his brother, Stephen, gave director Ryan Coogler notes on a draft not long before shooting began, adding in his comments to Collider that the writing partners had "some cool insight." What would really be cool is if Coogler could somehow fit Glover's Spider-Man character into Black Panther 2.

What do you think? Have we give you deeper insight into the real Donald Glover, or are you, by chance, more interested in learning about the real Teddy Perkins? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on the multi-talented star, as well as even more in-depth looks into the lives of your favorite celebrities, here on CinemaBlend.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.