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ICONS: Donald Glover

After his recent comedy TV success, Donald Glover has suggested to his fans that he might return to stand-up. The comedian has come a long way from the worlds of music and acting, and many are already excited about his return to comedy.

Donald Glover is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and original voices in Hollywood today, having gone from writer to comedian to rapper to actor… But what is he most of all? Well, the truth is, he’s all of these things at once! Donald Glover went to Avondale High School and DeKalb School of the Arts, and his high school yearbook was scribbled “Most likely to write for the Simpsons”. He began his first job in 2008 as a writer for the popular sitcom 30 Rock, in which he did so well that he immediately won the “Best Comedy Series of 2008” award for the sitcom. In 2008-2009, Glover played a few more roles as an actor, while also exploring the genre of stand-up comedy. After a couple of mixtapes and an EP, his debut album (“Camp”, 2011) was already getting a lot of attention, and by the time he got to his second album (“Because the Internet”, 2013), he was nominated for a Grammy Award in the categories of Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance.

In 2015, Glover returned to the film world with three films: the flop horror The Lazarus Effect, the comedy Magic Mike XXL, in which he performed a cover of Bruno Mars’ “Marry You”, which was also included in the soundtrack. And finally, there was Ridley Scott’s sci-fi adaptation The Martian, in which Glover plays an astrodynamicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who helps rescue a stranded astronaut on Mars played by Matt Damon. Glover has also contributed to the soundtrack for Creed (2015), but what really made his mark was, of course, Atlanta! The project, which he had been developing since August 2013, was finally commissioned by FX, and the 10-part series immediately received widespread critical acclaim. Glover wrote, occasionally directed, executive produced and starred in the series. Earnest “Earn” Marks stars as a young man from Princeton who tries to manage his rapper cousin while showcasing the Atlanta hip-hop scene. Glover has received numerous accolades for his work on the series, including a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award. Following the success of the series, FX immediately signed Glover to an exclusive deal to produce additional series for the network.

In 2016, Glover held three musical performances called “Pharos Experience” at Joshua Tree in California, where he performed songs from his third studio album “Awaken, My Love!”. The album was released that same year, became a huge success and went platinum. It was a bold departure from his usual hip-hop style, as Glover primarily sang rather than rapped on it, and drew from genres such as psychedelic soul, funk and R&B. The album was well received by music critics and was nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award, including Album of the Year, while “Redbone” won Best R&B Performance – and was also nominated for Album of the Year and Best R&B Song. By this time, Time had already celebrated him as one of the “100 Most Influential People”, with Tina Fey noting that Glover is the man who today “embodies his generation’s belief that people can be who they want to be.” Shortly after the Grammys, in May 2018, he released the single “This Is America,” which debuted at number one to much surprise. The lyrics touched on a number of topics, including gun violence and showing what it’s like to be black in the United States today, and well, the music video blew the fuse. The clip, directed by Japanese-American Hiro Murai, features Glover with a firearm, who executes the choir during the short film. The following year, “This is America” won Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Best Music Video, Best Rap/Sung Performance and Album of the Year.

Mr Feel Good

Glover produced three more seasons of Atlanta, which won a total of 7 Emmy Awards. And we had to wait until February of this year for his latest TV launch, when he premiered a remake of Mr. & Mrs. Smith and updated the story in an 8-episode TV show. The new series is only vaguely reminiscent of the original, apart from the fact that it’s about secret agents pretending to be a married couple. Though John and Jane Smith know that they are both employed by a secret organisation, the characters played by Donald Glover and Maya Erskine could not be more different. He is competitive and mommy’s boy, while she is antisocial and manipulative. Thanks to the original locations, the production is a James Bond movie in terms of imagery, so it exceeds and subverts expectations in every respect.