It’s no secret that Donald Glover is Hollywood’s “Golden Boy” right now. Maybe you couldn’t get “Redbone”, the single from his musical persona Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! album out of your head last year or you’ve been anxiously awaiting season two of his hit TV show Atlanta which will premiere on FX March 1st. These are just two of the many projects that have been keeping Glover busy lately. The 34-year-old recently sat down with Esquire to discuss just how complex he is on and off set.
He says that although Atlanta is now a hit, he had a hard time getting it from his head to anyone’s living room, after several networks passed on the original idea. Upon hearing some wise words from comedian Dave Chappelle, Glover decided to approach his concept in a different way:
“I remember seeing an interview where Dave Chappelle was talking about how it was important to him that the show was personal.”
“So I just focused on making it more and more personal. We shopped it around to all these places. I didn’t get too specific about what the show was, because I just felt like trying to explain it was going to be a hard sell.”
FX was the only network that gave the show a shot, but Glover said either way he wasn’t willing to compromise on his idea of a Princeton dropout trying to make it as a rap manager:
“It was a Trojan horse to be able to just tell stories.”
“I’m just not a person who wants to give people what they want, because I’m more complicated than that.”
With two Emmys, two Golden Globe Awards and the credit of being first African-American to win for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Glover isn’t exactly humble about his accomplishments. He confidently notes that his creativity is what has gotten him so far, at such a young age:
“I’m way farther up this never-ending mountain than I thought I would ever be.”
“Not that I thought that I’d never be there.”
Atlanta isn’t the only thing on Glover’s plate. He’ll play Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story coming to theaters May 25 and co-star with Beyoncé in a computer-animated adaptation of The Lion King.
Glover met with Bijan Stephen for the Esquire interview at a diner in northeast Atlanta and reflects on the importance of strip clubs to the city. In 2012, when a broken foot forced him to postpone his first big tour as Childish Gambino, Glover retreated to Magic City, a popular strip club in the city, although he says that ultimately the vibe isn’t for him:
“People wanted me to stop being depressed. They’re like, ‘Give us that smile.’ I just don’t want to do it all the time. That’s not me. I’m not going to lie and say, ‘That feels good, you’re my girl.’”
Another thing he can do without? Social media. He signed off all his accounts a few years ago, but even back then his tweets weren’t filled with exotic cars, money phones, or lavish vacations like most celebs. Twitter for Glover, like many of us, was a place to get in his feelings. But alas, he came to the conclusion that social media wasn’t exactly his speed:
“I realized that connection was too powerful for a person like me. I just would get hurt.”
He says when he logs on now, he tries to keep his celebrity persona under wraps:
“I try and find subcultures. I try and find communities. I talk to people as a regular person. It’s the only place you can be anonymous.”
Glover says that in addition to all of his work in front of the camera, you may catch in in the studio again working on another Childish Gambino album. As for what he ultimately hopes to accomplish, he’s clear that he “wants to make stuff none else will make” more specifically telling the stories of Black people, for Black people and to Black people:
“Black people do not have the narrative over their story. It’s always been written by somebody else. I also think it’s like we have PTSD. There’s a lot of things that have happened to us that we don’t completely understand and we’re not getting help to understand. That’s why information is so powerful and necessary. If you understand, then you don’t let it happen again.”
You can read more about his bourgeois beginnings dining at Chic-fil-A and how he’s the next Tupac in the full interview here.