Danny Glover, prolific multitalented and multiple award holder, was born on the 22nd July 1946 and is famous actor, film producer and producer with a long career from the 1970s when there were very limited opportunities for African Americans. He is known for his roles in films like the color purple, the predator 2, witness, lethal weapon, saw, franchise and angels in the outfield. He has appeared in more than 70 films, more than 20 television appearances and won more than 15 awards in his acting career. In addition, Danny Glover has participated in theatrical productions albeit to smaller scale. Danny is also a political and civil activist that has supported different political and humanitarian causes. His activism can be attributed to his parents, James and Carrie Glover, who actively fought for equal rights through the National association for the Advancement of colored people (NAACP).
Danny suffered from epilepsy during his teenage and young adult age, but somehow the epileptic seizures stopped when he was 30. On the other hand, it took quite a while to overcome the challenges associated with dyslexia and especially because the disorder was not well characterized during the time, Danny was growing up and thus remained undiagnosed. In fact, in his case dyslexia was only diagnosed after he had completed his schooling years (during his late thirties). Dyslexia is a condition that a brain condition that is associated with difficulties in reading because letters and words are jumbled up in the mind. The disorder made Danny struggle with his schoolwork and students and school staff alike ridiculed him. The staff labeled Danny a retard and at seven fellow pupils laughed at him for being a slow reader, which lowered his self-esteem. However, he managed to overcome the challenges he faced to become one of the most celebrated actor of his time and a prolific political and humanitarian activist. This paper will focus on the struggles of Danny with dyslexia, his success, strengths, and the barriers to his success and the factors that helped him succeed.
– Historical background of Danny Glover
As earlier mentioned Danny Glover was born to James and Carrie Glover, who were actively involved in the NAACP. He was born at a time of the civil movement’s fight for the rights of the African American and was therefore introduced to political activism at a tender age. Though Danny had difficulties learning due to Dyslexia, he performed exceptionally well in the academic areas that did not require a lot of reading such as mathematics. He also excelled in extracurricular activities like football. At the age of 16, he started having epileptic seizures, which cut short his football interest. He took to singing and sometimes danced. Danny lived with his parents in San Francisco and spent his summer holidays with his grandparents in Louisville, Georgia. In the rural Louisville, he experienced the struggles and the hard work of the ordinary Americans. This gave the young Danny strong humanitarian perspective and strong work ethics. In addition, watching the parents struggle financially in his early age (they lived in the government housing project). His parents were employed by the California post office where they work their way to financial stability.
James and Carrie Glover were good role models for their five children. They instilled strong work ethics in Danny and the siblings as well as a strong humanitarian sense. Even as they struggled to raise the five children Danny’s they were involved in charity work and political activism. They worked hard to give Danny and the siblings a better life, and when Danny was ten they moved from the government housing project. Danny adopted the values of hard work and humanitarianism from the parents. However, despite his hard work, Danny was not making headway in his class work because of his difficulties in learning and reading. Unfortunately, at the time, dyslexia had not been identified and thus his colleagues and school staff teased him. In addition, being black and awkwardly tall made him a target of ridicule from other youngsters. The ridicule may have lowered Danny’s self-esteem but it did not stop him from achieving his dream through hard work and determination. Danny received a lot of encouragement and mentorship from one of his teachers and his parents as well. He leveraged on this support and his strengths to overcome the low self-esteem.
Danny acknowledges his teacher at the second grade, Ms. Lumber, for helping overcome the low self-esteem. The teacher kept on emphasizing Danny’s mathematical skills and appointed him to the class milk monitor. The sense of responsibility and authority gave Danny the much-needed sense of self worth. His height, for which he was teased, gave him a competitive advantage in football. In addition, he learnt dancing in an attempt to feel less awkward about his height.
– Career challenges and success
In an interview with the success magazine, Danny credits his success to the strong work ethics that were endowed to him by his parents. Danny started working at the age of eleven by delivering newspapers early in the morning before going to school. At that tender age, the parents assigned duties to all members of the family and thought Danny and his siblings to value work as means to success. According to Danny, by instilling strong work ethics in him, the parents made him self-sufficient and thus he grew knowing that he could take care of himself and succeed through hard work. As such, Danny has put in a lot of effort to overcome the challenges presented by his dyslexia condition and to be one of the most accomplished actor and filmmaker.
During his teenage years, partly due to the frustration in school and the desire to fit in, Danny engaged in youthful adventures that were self-destructive and severally put him in trouble. He was arrested severally but his father never gave up on Him but instead guided him out of his delinquent ways. Danny’s father had a strong presence and influence on him and was his best friend and role model. Despite the struggles in his academic due to dyslexia, Danny worked hard and graduated from high school in 1965. Unfortunately, his grades were not very good and thus he could not go so far in his education at an early age but he caught up latter. He went to a city college but dropped out and started meager income through washing dishes. During this time, Danny was really affected by the plight of the African Americans and was enraged by the social inequalities. It was particularly painful to travel for miles from California to Georgia without a stopover for fear of the racial violence against the African Americans. This and other racially charged experiences plunged Danny into political activism and community work.
At the age of 19 Danny went into San Francisco state university college to tutor children in a youth program that was sponsored by the university. This was despite his difficulties in learning due to his condition, which is a statement on his hard work and determination. He became an inspiration to the children he taught and was involved in various community improvement projects which opened his eyes to the need for higher education as a tool in helping the community. He enrolled for an economics degree and paid his school fee through washing dishes and other jobs. This determination, hard work and humanitarian sense saw Danny participate in student leadership, particularly to fight for the rights of the. In campus participated in acting as a way of voicing his political views. Amiri Baraka expressed Danny’s social and political activism through plays and he later joined a theatre group under the stewardship of Mel Stewart who influenced his early acting career. Mel taught him the value of improvisation and how to improve his concentration through akido (a Japanese martial arts technique). This was very helpful to Danny because he was struggling with memorizing script.
After his undergraduate studies Danny, married and with a baby, joined the San Francisco city government. While still working for the government he joined the Black Actors Workshop of the American conservatory, where he received his first training in stage acting. The Shelton Actors Lab also trained him and later he quit his government job to advance his acting career. He moved to Los Angeles in search of greener pastures where he took part in several plays such as the Island by Athol Fugard and Shakespear’s Macbeth. Other plays that Danny participated in are Sizwe Bansi is dead, blood knot and master Harold and the boys. He played supporting roles in the mid-1980s in films like Silverado, Witness, Places in the heart and in television movies like Mandela which earned him the ACE and NAACP image awards. In the late 1980s, he played leading roles in films like The color purple, lethal weapon and Lonesome.
Danny leveraged on his success as an actor to advance the agenda of social justice. In the late 1980s, he worked with actors (alongside Aflre Woodard) to form an artist groups (Artists for South Africa) with a commitment to fight against racial inequalities associated with the South African apartheid system. He was appointed as the UN’s goodwill ambassador to champion the UNDP’s agenda in Africa. Danny has actively been involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa through raising awareness and advocacy for the affected less fortunate. He supports various organizations that lobby for the advancement of the plight of Africa and South America such as the Trans African forum and supports filmmakers in Africa through the festival of African film in Burkina Faso. He criticized the Bush’s administration attacks on Iraq and the decision to try those captured in the war on terror through military tribunals. In 2010, he participated in a protest for the rights of SEIU workers and was arrested for it. He also participated in the protest over the humanitarian crisis.
– The barriers in Danny’s success and factors that led to his success
The greatest barrier that Danny faced in his career advancement was associated with dyslexia. As an actor, he needed to read and memorize scripts, which was difficult with his learning and reading difficulties. The fact that he did not perform well in his high school and was a college dropout, did not did not make things any better for him. In fact, in his early days all he could get were meager jobs such as washing dishes for low earnings. However, the challenges associated with dyslexia did not deter Danny from succeeding because there were a myriad of factors in his favor.
The encouragement of the Danny’s parents and his second grade teacher was a major factor that helped him overcome the low self-esteem associated with the stigma of dyslexia in his days. In addition, his father was a good role model and endowed him with strong work ethics, which catapulted him to success. Danny hard to put a lot of hard work in memorizing the scripts and he was determined not to fail. In fact, in the interview with the success magazine, Danny attributes his success to hard work, tenacity, persistence, willingness to learn and the confidence to follow his heart. Though he started as a government employee and studied economics at the university, Danny had a passion for acting and used his government earnings to enroll and pay for acting career. He followed his heart and resigned his government job to pursue his passion and even moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of for better acting opportunities. This move brought great success as an actor, which provided a platform to advance his passion in social and political activism. He attributes his success in social activism to his belief in something larger than himself. His belief that the humanitarian needs and struggles supersede his has enabled him to make enormous sacrifices in the humanitarian struggles.
The fact that Danny was dyslexic may have been a blessing in disguise. The disorder has been linked to special gifts such as creativity, persistence, ambition, pictorial thinking rather than thinking in words, independent thinking, love of complexity, ability to grasp new concepts easily and quickly, concentration and many more. This may have played a role in the success of Danny Glover.
In conclusion, Danny Glover is an established and multiple award winner as well as an active political and social activist. He has encountered a myriad of challenges and barriers on his road to success mostly related to his learning difficulties. However, though hard work, determination, tenacity, persistence, willingness to learn and exceptional talent, he has overcome the challenges.
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