Idrissa Akuna “Idris” Elba is an English actor, producer, and singer who was born on September 6, 1972. He is most recognized for his parts in HBO’s “The Wire,” BBC One’s “Luther,” and the biographical drama “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” in which he played Nelson Mandela. Apart from acting, Elba is a DJ and an R&B musician who goes by the moniker DJ Big Driis or Idris. He was on “Time” magazine’s “Most Influential People in the World” list in 2016. His films have grossed over $9.8 billion worldwide as of May 2019, making him one of the top 20 highest-grossing actors.
Idrissa Akuna "Idris" Elba
DJ Big Driis, Idris
September 6, 1972
Idris Elba was born on September 6, 1972, in Hackney, London. Winston, his father, is from Sierra Leone, and Eve, his mother, is from Ghana. Winston was employed at a Ford plant in Dagenham. Elba shortened his name to ‘Idris’ when attending Canning Town High School. He became interested in performing during this time. He got his first part in the play “The Stage” after replying to a newspaper advertisement. He and his friends also started a DJ company. The Prince’s Trust then gave him a stipend, allowing him to join the National Music Theater.
Elba began his acting career in the TV shows “The Bill,” “Bramwell,” “The Governor,” “Family Affairs,” “Ultraviolet,” and “London’s Burning,” where he played both guest and minor roles. In 1999, he made his cinematic debut in Gabriel Aghion’s French feature “Belle maman,” in which he played a supporting role. He rose to prominence as the main character in the British crime drama series “The Wire.” It was favorably received by reviewers as well as the general public. It also received many accolades. In the following years, he appeared in several television and feature films. “Buffalo Soldiers” (2001), “The Gospel” (2005), “Daddy’s Little Girls” (2007), and “Obsessed” (2009) with Beyonce are some of his more popular movies. He has played the titular character in the TV series “Luther” since 2010, for which he has received critical acclaim. His popularity skyrocketed after he appeared in the 2011 superhero flick “Thor,” and later In the 2013 sequel “Thor: The Dark World.” In the 2013 documentary “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” he portrays the revolutionary Nelson Mandela. In the following years, he acted in “Second Coming” (2014), “The Gunman” (2015), and “Star Trek Beyond” (2016). He reprised his role In “Thor: Ragnarok,” the second sequel to the 2011 superhero blockbuster “Thor.”
Elba has been in Fat Joe, Angie Stone, and Giggs’ music videos. He’s directed and produced music videos for K Michelle and Mumford & Sons. He married three times: first to Hanne Nørgaard (from 1999 to 2003), and then to Sonya Nicole Hamlin (for four months in 2006). He has two children, one with Nørgaard and the other with his ex-girlfriend Naiyana Garth. In early 2017, Elba began dating model Sabrina Dhowre. On February 10, 2018, the couple got engaged at an East London cinema while screening his film “Yardie.” They married in Marrakesh on April 26, 2019.
Elba lands his first major role in a series called “Bramwell,” a medical drama set in 1890s England.
Elba signs on to star as the lead on the six-part BBC television series “Luther.”
Elba wins the BET Award for Best Actor for “The Losers.”
Elba collaborates with the U.K. Parliament in their efforts to eradicate Ebola from West Africa.
Elba wins Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special for "Luther."
“Murdah Loves John (The John Luther Character Album)” is released.
Why We Love Idris Elba
He cares about his father’s homeland
Elba’s father is a native of Sierra Leone, and when Ebola went on to ravage the country, he saw a way to use his celebrity status to help. He collaborated with The Africa United global health campaign to educate people on how to protect themselves from the disease.
He’s a man of many talents
He used to be a house music DJ before becoming an actor, and he has gone by the stage names "DJ Dris" and "Big Driis" in the past. He reworked the soundtrack for "The Jungle Book," and recently finished his music project, "Hiatus." In 2012, he directed a music video for the Mumford and Sons song "Lover of the Light." Elba also gave his voice to Jay-Z's "American Gangster" soundtrack's opening intro.
He is charitable
Elba was named spokesman and Anti-Crime Ambassador for the Prince's Trust, a charity founded by Prince Charles, in 2009. His job was to keep British kids out of trouble. When Elba was a kid, the organization helped him by providing him with a grant.
5 Surprising Facts
He once embarrassed himself hlariously
The actor revealed that he accidentally left his microphone on once while using the bathroom.
He has a crush on Meryl Streep
When asked who his celebrity crush was, Elba said he always had a heart for Meryl Streep.
He broke a record
In May 2015, he smashed the British land speed record in a Bentley, reaching speeds of nearly 180 mph, beating the mark set by Sir Malcolm Campbell in 1927.
He had a near-death experience
On the set of "Beasts of No Nation," Elba lost his balance while leaning against a tree overlooking a waterfall and nearly fell over the edge of a 90-foot drop; luckily, he landed on a thin ridge, which saved his life.
He’s a natural
Elba has been open about the fact that he has no professional acting training.
Idris Elba FAQs
What soap was Idris Elba in?
He was in “Family Affairs.”
Does Idris Elba like video games?
Yes, playing video games is one of his favorite hobbies.
Is Idris Elba a Sonic fan?
Elba reveals he was a Sonic fan long before being cast as Knuckles in “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.”
Idris Elba’s birthday dates