Donald Glover – popularly known via his stage name Childish Gambino – is an American musician, director, actor, and producer. Glover started his career as a writer for the sitcom 30 Rock before leaving to play the role of Troy Barnes in Community. In 2016, he started working on the series Atlanta, which he stars in and occasionally directs.
Glover has won two Golden Globes and two Emmy Awards for his work on Atlanta. He has also experienced incredible success as a musician, with his hit singles This is America and Redbone winning a combined total of five Grammy Awards.
This piece will look at Glover’s life growing up, his parents, his partner and family, and his secretive nature.
Donald felt like his parents neglected him while he was growing up
Donald Glover was born on 25th September 1983 in California and grew up in Stone Mountain, Georgia. His father, Donald Glover Sr., was a postal worker and his mom, Beverly Smith, a daycare provider. Glover lived in a rough and unequal neighborhood, and he saw a lot of violence when he was young. He told Esquire:
“If people saw how I grew up, they would be triggered. Confederate flags everywhere. I had friends who were white, whose parents were very sweet to me but were also like, ‘Don’t ever date him.’ I saw that what was being offered on Sesame Street didn’t exist.”
Donald’s parents tried to help by volunteering as foster parents, but they inadvertently brought suffering closer to Glover. The kids who came to Glover’s home had been through traumatic experiences such as molestation. Glover’s parents explained that they needed to give the tormented foster kids more attention than they gave him, but Glover didn’t fully understand their logic.
Glover coped by working on his creativity and hoped to catch his parents’ attention through it. He also wanted to change society’s perception of him and his race. Glover told Village Voice:
“I was the type of kid – I felt like I was always being blamed for things that weren’t my fault. So I always wanted things to go smoothly. And growing up in the South, people didn’t like me because I was black. And it took on this thing: I’m gonna be me so much, and be sooo likeable, that I will change their minds. And I know now that that’s impossible. But I had to try.”
His father’s death inspired him to redo some of his lines in The Lion King remake
Glover announced that his father passed away during a concert held two weeks after his death. Donald’s dad passed on the day that the first Lion King trailer came out. Glover voiced the role of Simba in The Lion King, and he felt that he could portray the character better now that he understood the pain of losing a father. Simba lost his father, Mufasa, in what was perhaps the most emotional scene in the film. Glover told USA Today:
“The trailer came out the day my father passed. And I called (Jon) and I was like, ‘Can I come back to redo some of the (lines)?’ I had to because I was like, I understand this in such a different way… I went through the exact thing: When somebody’s like, ‘You know your father’s always with you, you know that, right?’ And you don’t want to hear that.”
Donald and his partner Michelle White have two sons, Legend and Drake
Donald and Michelle were first spotted together shopping in Hawaii during spring 2016. White was heavily pregnant, and it was reported that the couple welcomed their child later that year. While performing at the Governors Ball festival in June 2017, Glover revealed, ‘This song is dedicated to everybody in this crowd and my young son, Legend.”
Later in 2017, he shouted out his wife and son as he accepted the Emmy for Best Actor in a Comedy. He also stated that he and Michelle had another son on the way. The couple’s second son, Drake, arrived in January 2018. Donald talked about his decision to have children during a TCA panel for season two of Atlanta. He said:
“You’re always ready, but you’re not always ready. It’s never really a good time. I definitely wouldn’t handle it differently. I’m happy it happened when it happened because I don’t know if I would’ve handled it in the way that I have the contact to handle it now.”
It remains unclear whether Donald and White are married. Donald spoke about his lack of faith in the institution of marriage in a 2017 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, but in a July 2019 interview with Entertainment Tonight, he referred to Michelle as his wife. However, he wasn’t wearing a wedding band, and the interviewer didn’t ask for details. All we know is that he shares a strong relationship with his wife. He told People:
“I think my partner, she does all the hard stuff, to be honest. She’s just very supportive. I haven’t really had to change anything. But it’s given me definitely another perception on what life is. It gives me a lot of context”
Donald claims that social media makes him less human
Donald has managed to keep a tight lid on his private life throughout his career. He has rarely appeared on tabloid blogs about his personal life. Part of the reason why this is so is because of how he approaches social media. He told The New Yorker that he deleted his social media presence because, “I felt like social media was making me less human, and I already didn’t feel that human.”
He told Esquire that social media was too powerful for him and that it ended up hurting him. Glover talked to Jimmy Kimmel about why he avoided reading online opinions about This is America. He said:
“Some friends have sent a couple (of the think pieces), but, for real, I haven’t been on the internet since (it dropped). It’s bad for me. I’m really sensitive. I see one negative thing, and I track that person down. I go to their Instagram and be like, ‘You’re not so great. That baby’s not even that cute!’”
Donald doesn’t stay away from social media altogether. He engages in forums anonymously and communicates as a regular person rather than a celebrity.