Idrissa Akuna Elba, better known as Idris Elba, has had one Hell of a career. From The Wire to Cats, the actor has made the rounds for over two decades. He’s rarely taken a break, working not only on acting but as a musician, writer, producer, director, and kickboxer. As it is Black History Month, we’re going to honor this outstanding actor.
Elba was born in the London borough of Hackney, to Winston, a Sierra Leonean factory worker, and Eve, a Ghanaian woman. He knew he wanted to act from a young age, and found his first acting gig from a newspaper ad that led him to his first agent in 1984. To support his career, he would work odd jobs such as tire fitting, cold-calling, and working night shifts at the factory where his father worked. He gained small roles in England, but to pursue his career, he moved to New York City. It was here that he would get his first big break.
The Wire and Other Notable Performances
One of the best TV shows of all time, The Wire is also what put Elba on the map. He played drug dealer Stringer Bell. In 2010, he had his next big success with the BBC series, Luther, playing the titular character. In 2013, he played Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which got him nominated for a Golden Globe.
Elba and the Superhero Genre
Elba has played a wide variety of characters, including many superheroes. Most notable was his performance as Heimdall in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, portraying the character in the Thor and Avengers movies. He also played a character in the Marvel movie Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Unlike most actors, Elba will play a character in both the Marvel and DC franchises. He’s set to play Bloodsport in the upcoming The Suicide Squad, a sequel to the 2016 film Suicide Squad.
Looking through his filmography, it’s impressive to see the variety of movies he’s done. He’s been in crime dramas, he’s been in horror, he’s even been in a Christmas musical. And the transitions he’s had to make are striking. He went from Hobbs and Shaw to Cats, which are two movies I can’t imagine being further apart. He went from Beasts of No Nation, a film about child soldiers, to Zootopia, an animated movie about anthropomorphic cops (this isn’t a diss, Zootopia is great.) You don’t see people who have his range often.
Elba has received a whopping six Golden Globe nominations, one of them leading to an award. He’s also been nominated for five Emmys, and has won two Screen Actors Guild awards, being nominated for four. He’s also won three BET awards, one Black Reel Award, one Film Independent Spirit Award, and five, yes five, NAACP Image Awards. His trophy shelf must be ready to fall apart. In 2018, he was also named the sexiest man alive by People Magazine, and received numerous other awards on the basis of his looks.
This is a weird one, I know, but Elba and his wife just signed a deal with Crunchyroll to produce an anime series, called Dantai. It’s going to be a dark fantasy anime. Let’s hope it turns out to be good.
Outside of Acting
As mentioned earlier, Elba is a rapper and DJ, and has released an album, four Extended Plays, two remixes, and a mixtape. He opened for Madonna during her Rebel Heart Tour in 2015. As a kickboxer, he fought against Lionel Graves, a much younger and experienced opponent—and won. This was his first professional fight. In 2018, he wrote and directed the film Yardie.
Idris Elba has had one Hell of a career, and after researching everything he’s done I’ve gotten tired for him. Keep going strong, Idris, and please promise me that The Suicide Squad will be better then the first one.
A Tribute to Idris Elba
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