The life of Idris Elba

Upon announcing he tested positive for coronavirus, the actor and musical called for solidarity and union. He's spent his life fighting for diversity in the film industry and beyond. This is the story of Idris Elba.

He fights for equality and diversity

He's played Nelson Mandela. Some have imagined him getting the “License to Kill.” This is Idrissa Akuna Elba, more famously known as Idris Elba. Idris Elba was born in 1972, to a Sierra Leonean father and a Ghanaian mother, and grew up in Hackney, then a disadvantaged neighborhood of East London. At 13, he began DJing at weddings with his uncle and decided to call himself DJ Big Driis the Londoner. The same year, a drama teacher asked him to act out a fried egg cooking in a pan, making a lasting impression on him. As a teenager, he began acting in plays and shortened his name to Idris.

At 25, he moved to New York

In 2002, he made his breakthrough thanks to his role as Stringer Bell, a drug dealer, in the series "The Wire," which depicts the relationships between the police and drug dealers in Baltimore. In 2009, he was appointed anti-crime ambassador for the Prince’s Trust foundation, created by Prince Charles, which helps disadvantaged children and which he himself had benefited from. At 39, he landed the title role in the series "Luther," where he played a detective battling his demons. In 2013, he embodied the South African icon Nelson Mandela in the biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” In 2014, he joined forces with the UN in the fight against the Ebola virus, which was ravaging his father’s native Sierra Leone. At 43, he made history by becoming the first black actor to win 2 SAG Awards in 1 night: Best Supporting Role for the film “Beasts of No Nation” and Best Actor in a mini-series for "Luther." In 2016, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to drama. The same year, he called for people to vote “no” to Brexit.

At 45, he was named Sexiest Man Alive by the magazine “People.”

In early 2018, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle asked him to DJ at their wedding. In November 2018, after several months of rumors, a survey showed that 63% of Americans would like to see the actor donning James Bond’s tuxedo. At 45, he directed his first film: "Yardie." At 46, he married his third wife, the model Sabrina Dhowre. In December 2019, he became a Sierra Leonean citizen during his first trip to his father’s country of origin. On March 16, 2020, Idris Elba posted a video on his Twitter account in which he announced he had tested positive for Covid-19. 6 days later, his wife, Sabrina Dhowre, announced that she had also contracted Covid-19. “I didn’t have any symptoms. I got tested because I realized that I was exposed to someone who had also tested positive.”, he concluded.