Donald Glover has been in our collective lives for just over six and a bit years. He's a multi-hyphenate with a successful music career performing as Childish Gambino, his acting career saw him land a Golden Globe for Best Actor in Comedy for his new show Atlanta (but let's be honest, we are smitten with him for his role as Troy in Community), and he's been a successful writer working not only in the writers room of 30 Rock, but also creating and writing Atlanta.
There's no question that he's talented, but what is it about Glover that has us all more than a little bit in love with him?
Even among a cast of seasoned comedians like Joel McHale and legitimate living legend Chevy Chase, Donald Glover immediately stood out in Community. With perfect comic timing and a charm that cut through, he brought a relatable humanity to a role that was written to be little more than an obnoxious frat-boy with his best years behind him.
When he showed up as Hannah’s mismatched Republican boyfriend in the opening episodes of the second season of Girls, he showed a dramatic range that was rarely able to be showcased when he was goofing it up with Abed in a the Dreamatorium.
One half of TV’s most endearing bromance
Pairing Troy with Danny Pudi’s Abed in Community not only shifted the show further away from its early focus on the ‘will they/won’t they’ dynamic of Jeff and Britta, but it gifted the audience with one of television’s greatest buddy acts.
Childlike, steeped in pop-culture, and with one foot firmly planted in the fantastical, the Troy and Abed bromance grew to be a central gateway through which the absurd collided with reality every-day at Greendale Community College. It’s no surprise that even with a very decent sixth and final season, Community never truly recovered from Donald Glover's fifth-season departure and the breakup of our favourite, mostly-pretend, breakfast TV anchors.
We all wanted him to be Spiderman
A strange thing happened in 2010. Amidst news that Sony was preparing to reboot the Spider-Man film franchise, a Twitter campaign took off calling for Donald Glover to take on the spandex of Spiderman - with all the great power and great responsibility that comes with it. The #donald4spiderman campaign ultimately failed, but it did demonstrate two things: to a large portion of the general public, the colour of Peter Parker’s skin didn’t matter, and man do we all love us some Donald Glover.
He’s just as good behind the camera
At 23, four years before his turn as Troy, Donald Glover was snatched up by Tiny Fey to write for 30 Rock, eventually being recognised for his work in 2009 by the Writers Guild of America. Now, with Atlanta, a show he created and writes, he’s once again finding critical acclaim for his work behind the camera, and making important statements about black identity in America today in the process. It’s an impressive evolution from the goofy hijinks of 30 Rockerfeller Plaza.
His music doesn’t suck
Let’s face it, TV careers are littered with the remains of misguided attempts at popstardom: for every Kylie Minogue there’s at least a hundred Danii Minogues. As Childish Gambino, Donald Glover avoided the pitfalls by exercising his musical muscle long before Community premiered; it didn’t seem all that strange that he left the show to pursue a music career, with fans having sampled a string of promising mixtapes.
With Awaken, My Love, his album from late 2016, he not only added critical music acclaim to his impressive list of recognition, but pushed his once purely hip hop project into a fusion of psychedelic soul and funk, showing in the process the hallmarks of a true musical artist: innovation and a restless kind of creativity.
We all want to be him
This isn’t even about him being so fine that he's able to fill the shoes of the finest movie character there ever was - Lando Calrissian (portrayed in the original Star Wars films by the exceedingly smooth Billy Dee Williams). We just admire the heck out of him.
In an era of unbridled encouragement of entrepreneurial spirit, Donald Glover’s career acts as the perfect playbook. He’s taken risks and never stopped pushing his creative ambition to new heights. But he also comes across as sincerely humble and charming, and it’s hard to begrudge anyone that honest their success.
Explore the world of Atlanta. The entire first season is streaming now on SBS On Demand: