Idrissa Akuna “Idris” Elba OBE is an English actor, writer, producer, musician, DJ, rapper, and singer. He is known for roles including Stringer Bell in the HBO series The Wire, DCI John Luther in the BBC One series Luther, and Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013). He has been nominated four times for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film, winning one, and was nominated five times for a Primetime Emmy Award.
Elba appeared in Ridley Scott‘s American Gangster (2007) and Prometheus (2012). Elba portrayed Heimdall in Thor (2011) and its sequels Thor: The Dark World (2013) and Thor: Ragnarok (2017), as well as Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). He also starred in Pacific Rim (2013), Beasts of No Nation (2015), for which he received BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor, and Molly’s Game (2017). In 2016, he voiced Chief Bogo in Zootopia, Shere Khan in the live action/CGI adaptation of The Jungle Book, Fluke in Finding Dory, and played the role of Krall in Star Trek Beyond. He made his directorial debut in 2018 with an adaptation of the 1992 novel Yardie by Victor Headley.
In addition to his acting work, Elba performs as a DJ under the moniker DJ Big Driis (or Big Driis the Londoner) and as an R&B musician. In 2016, he was named in the Time 100 list of the Most Influential People in the World. As of May 2019, his films have grossed over $9.8 billion at the global box office, including over $3.6 billion in North America, where he is one of the top 20 highest-grossing actors.
Elba was born on 6 September 1972 at Forest Gate Hospital in Hackney, London, the son of Winston, a Sierra Leonean man who worked at the Ford Dagenham plant, and Eve, a Ghanaian woman. Elba’s parents were married in Sierra Leone and later moved to London. Elba was raised up in Hackney and East Ham, and shortened his first name to “Idris” at school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting. He credits The Stage with giving him his first big break, having seen an advertisement for a play in it; he auditioned and met his first agent while performing in the role. In 1986, he began helping an uncle with his wedding DJ business; within a year, he had started his own DJ company with some of his friends. Elba left school in 1988, and won a place in the National Youth Music Theatre thanks to a £1,500 Prince’s Trust grant. To support himself between roles in his early career, he worked in odd jobs including: tyre-fitting, cold-calling, and night shifts at Ford Dagenham. He was working in nightclubs under the DJ nickname “Big Driis” during his adolescence, but began auditioning for television roles in his early twenties.
Career of Idris Elba
Elba’s first acting role was in Crimewatch murder reconstructions and in 1994 he appeared in a BBC children’s drama called The Boot Street Band. In 1995, he landed his first significant role on a series called Bramwell, a medical drama set in 1890s England.
His first acting roles were on the soap opera Family Affairs (1997), the television serial Ultraviolet (1998), and the medical drama Dangerfield (1995). His best known roles are as drug baron Russell “Stringer” Bell on the HBO series The Wire (2002), as DCI John Luther on the BBC One series Luther (2010), and as Heimdall in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He later starred in the films Daddy’s Little Girls (2007), Prom Night (2008), RocknRolla (2008), The Unborn (2009) and Obsessed (2009). He also appeared in the films American Gangster (2007), Takers (2010), Thor (2011), Prometheus (2012), Pacific Rim (2013), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Beasts of No Nation (2015) and Star Trek Beyond (2016). He voiced Chief Bogo in Zootopia (2016), Shere Khan in The Jungle Book (2016), and Fluke in Finding Dory (2016).
Idris Elba was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2016 New Years Honours for his services to drama.
Personal Life of Idris Elba
Elba has been married three times: first to Hanne “Kim” Nørgaard (from 1999 to 2003) and then to Sonya Nicole Hamlin (for four months in 2006). He has two children: a daughter with Kim named Isan (born 2002), who resides with Nørgaard in Atlanta, Georgia, and a son named Winston (born 2014) with ex-girlfriend Naiyana Garth. Elba became engaged to the Somali-Canadian, Sabrina Dhowre, on 10 February 2018, during a screening of his film Yardie at an East London cinema; the pair have been dating since early 2017. They married on 26 April 2019, in Marrakesh.
Elba states that he is spiritual but not religious. Elba is an avid supporter of Arsenal F.C. In 2015, as part of his Discovery Channel miniseries Idris Elba: No Limits, Elba broke the course record land speed “Flying Mile” for the Pendine Sands.
The Prince’s Trust, a UK youth charity founded by Prince Charles in 1976, which Elba credits with helping to start his career, appointed him as their anti-crime ambassador in April 2009. Elba voiced support for a vote to remain in the European Union for the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum.
On 16 March 2020, Elba announced that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the 2019–2020 coronavirus pandemic.
- Full Name: Idrissa Akuna Elba
- Nickname: DJ Big Driis
- Other names: DJ Big Driis, Big Driis the Londoner, Big Driis, 7 Dub, Me Innit
- Born: September 6, 1972
- Birth Place: London Borough of Hackney, London, United Kingdom
- Height: 6′ 2½” (1.89 m)
- Citizenship: British, Sierra Leonean (since 2019)
- Occupation: Actor, Writer, Producer, DJ, Rapper, Singer
- Years active: 1994–present
- Sabrina Dhowre (26 April 2019 – present)
- Sonya Hamlin (9 April 2006 – 11 August 2006) ( divorced)
- Kim Nørgaard (June 1999 – 2003) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
- Isan Elba
- Winston Elba
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