2018 is about to be the year of Donald Glover. By the end of the year, the multi-industry powerhouse will release a new Childish Gambino album, unveil the highly-anticipated second season of his award-winning show Atlanta, and star as a young version of his film idol Lando Calrission in a Solo: A Star Wars Story. Not to mention that he’ll also start production voicing Simba in a remake of The Lion King alongside Beyoncé and the rest of an incredibly star-studded cast.
For their March cover story, Esquire‘s Bijan Stephen sat down with Glover to discuss what he has in store for a gigantic year, as well as fatherhood, race, and his creative process.
On a new Childish Gambino album:
“I feel like that’s not the ending — for me, anyway. I know it’s sometimes a hard pill to swallow, but I don’t care that much about what happens to me. The vibrations that I make, that’s for the people. Everybody always wants to change something and go to the next thing. I would love to be something that just gives and gives and doesn’t take…
All you really want to do is make something that stands the test of time. That’s all that matters. I like Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill and Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. That’s everyday music. That’s music that people just put on and they’re like, ‘Man, this song makes me feel good. This song, it helps me get through the day.’ You listen to ‘What’s Going On’ — I get a very intense feeling whenever I hear [Gaye] singing. Who’s willing to save a world that is destined to die? That’s such a real, honest thing. It’s like, why even raise children? Why raise a puppy? Why put so much care in something where you know destruction is part of the process?”
On the second season of Atlanta:
“I tried to do the Q-Tip take on it. After the first album, he was like, ‘I’m kicking this sophomore-slump shit in the ass…’ I know season two of Atlanta is something because it makes me nervous.”
On auditioning to play Lando Calrission:
“I told my agent, ‘I wanna be Lando… [The chances being slim] was exactly what I needed to hear, because I’m the person who’s not supposed to make it, so much so that I don’t think people recognize where I came from and what I’ve done. At a certain point, it does look easy. I do sometimes look like a Mary Sue. I was like, ‘Oh, okay, cool.’ I studied, I watched the movies a lot, and I killed it, because I was ready.”
“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.’”
“Every step of your life once you’re an adult, you realize what being a teenager is. Once you’re a teenager, you realize what being a child is.” Each phase, he says, provides context for the one that came before it. “Children are life’s greatest context. Parenthood really does make you something more. It asks you questions that no one is ever ready for, and that you’re always ready for. It’s like ayahuasca.”