How Did ‘The Lion King’ Star Donald Glover Become Famous?

Donald Glover is just one of those people who seems to be able to do everything. He’s a comedic and dramatic actor, he writes, he directs, and he even raps under another name. Here’s a look at how the star of the Disney live-action remake of The Lion King rose to prominence in Hollywood.

Glover got his start as a writer on this popular comedy

At just 35, Glover is doing well for himself. That may because he kicked off his career when he was still in college. While finishing up his degree in Dramatic Writing from NYU, he was hired as a staff writer on the hit NBC sitcom 30 Rock.

Glover told the host on Jimmy Kimmel Live that he wasn’t exactly responsible with the money he earned from the show at such a young age. “I had more money than all my friends, but you don’t spend it well.” When asked what he did spend it on, Glover said, “Can I be honest? Like, Gushers. I wasn’t allowed to have candy as a kid.”

His breakout acting role came from another NBC series

Glover left the writing staff of 30 Rock in 2009 when he was cast on another beloved NBC comedy, Community. He starred as Troy Barnes on the series for four years, leaving early on in the fifth in 2014.

Today, Glover is best known for his FX series Atlanta, for which he is also the creator along with writing and directing many of the episodes. For Season 1 of the show, Glover won the Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Directing for the seventh episode. 

Glover is also known as a rapper under a different name

One of the reasons that Glover is thought to have left Community was to focus on his rap career. When he exited the series, Glover had created two studio albums and several mixtapes under his stage name, Childish Gambino.

His song “This Is America” won two Grammys for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. However, there have been rumors that he’s slowing down on the music front. Glover told Kimmel that he was about to embark on a rebooked Australian tour, but while he says he will “still do shows,” it doesn’t sound as though he has plans to make any new music soon.

Here’s what he says about his role in The Lion King

Donald Glover arrives for the premiere of Disney's The Lion King held at Dolby Theatre on July 9, 2019, in Hollywood, California.
Donald Glover arrives for the premiere of Disney’s The Lion King held at Dolby Theatre on July 9, 2019, in Hollywood, California. | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Glover brought his signature humor to Jimmy Kimmel Live, donning a lion costume in honor of the film’s premiere that night. He remarked on the years that have been spent making the film, joking about working with mo-cap extraordinaire Andy Serkis and actual lions during production (the film uses completely CGI animals).

He did have one very real experience. Glover met Elton John, who composed much of the music for The Lion King. “I met him, and he was really sweet.” He told Kimmel, “I was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to be Simba,’ and I think he was like, ‘Oh, this guy’s crazy.’ He didn’t know what I was talking about.”

Glover recounts his son’s reaction to his co-star

Glover has two sons with his partner, Michelle White. His eldest, Legend, happens to be a big fan of his father’s The Lion King co-star, Beyoncé, though Glover isn’t quite sure how his three-year-old knows who the singer is, especially since he didn’t tell him anything about the movie or his participation in it.

“Yesterday I was like, ‘Hey, do you want to go see The Lion King?’ Just to see if he might notice my voice or whatever. And he was like, ‘Oh, sure. Beyoncé’s in it, right?’” Glover continued, “I was like, ‘How did you know that? But also, Daddy’s in it.’” He still hasn’t quite figured out how his son knows who Bey is.

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