The Many Faces of Idris Elba
Article may contain sponsored links

The Many Faces of Idris Elba: From On-Screen Legend to DJ Phenomenon

A recent graduate of the over-50s club, Idris Elba continues to prove that age ain’t nothing but a number.

Naomi Chadderton
Naomi Chadderton
An experienced editor and journalist specialising in news and lifestyle.

Idris Elba is a name that resonates with charisma, talent and versatility in the world of entertainment. A towering figure both on and off the silver screen, his journey from the gritty streets of East London to the glitzy red carpets of Tinseltown is nothing short of an inspirational odyssey.

With a career spanning over two decades, Elba has not only conquered Hollywood and become a globally-acclaimed DJ, but he has become a symbol of diversity and excellence, breaking barriers and challenging conventions along the way.

Idris Elba: Let’s Start From The Beginning

Born on September 6, 1972, in Hackney, East London, Idris Elba, (full name: Idrissa Akuna Elba), grew up in a working-class family to parents who instilled in him the values of hard work and determination from a young age. Elba's early life was not without its struggles, but it was precisely these challenges that would shape his character and drive.

Elba's passion for acting was ignited at an early age. He joined the National Youth Music Theatre in his teens, a pivotal moment that set him on the path to a career in the performing arts. Despite facing financial constraints and racial prejudices, he persevered, attending drama school and working various jobs to support himself.

Idris Elba: Star of The Small – And Big – Screen

Elba’s big break came when he bagged the role of Stringer Bell in the critically acclaimed television series 'The Wire' in 2002, with his portrayal of the complex drug lord showcasing his exceptional acting abilities to the world.

Many, however, know him as John Luther, where his brilliant yet tormented role as the detective in the BBC series won him a loyal fan base and numerous awards, including a Golden Globe (one of many).

Most recently, his Apple TV+ show ‘Hijack’ elevated the streaming giant’s game to whole new levels by passing a major milestone – the thriller series secured a spot in the Nielsen streaming charts' top 10, becoming the second series from the platform to reach this milestone. It also garnered 357 million minutes of viewing time in the week of its finale, earning the eighth position among all original web series and highlighting the success and potential of Apple TV+ in the streaming world.

Not content with starring on the small screen, Elba’s movie highlights include ‘Nelson Mandela in 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' (2013) where the actor’s transformation into the iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela was nothing short of astounding. The film earned him critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination.

He also portrayed Heimdall, the guardian of the Bifrost Bridge, in several Marvel films including 'Thor' (2011), 'Thor: The Dark World' (2013), and 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' (2015) while, for 'Beasts of No Nation' in 2015, he received widespread acclaim for his role as Commandant, a warlord in West Africa, with his performance earning him several award nominations.

Elba. Idris Elba.

For years, rumours and speculation have swirled around the possibility of Idris Elba stepping into the iconic role of James Bond, the suave and sophisticated British secret agent.

These rumours sparked intense discussions and debates among fans and within the film industry and, while there had been no official confirmation of Elba's casting as 007, his name remained one of the most frequently mentioned in connection with the role. However, earlier this year he rule himself out of the role, saying that the discourse on race had turned him off the idea of taking the role on.

Idris Elba: Recognition of a Legend

Despite his immense talent and success, Idris Elba has faced his fair share of challenges. He has been candid about the difficulties he encountered as a black actor in Hollywood, including typecasting and the lack of diverse roles. Nevertheless, he has used his influence to advocate for greater diversity and inclusion in the industry, an effort that has begun to bear fruit.

So much so that in 2016 he was honoured with the Order of the British Empire (OBE), for his outstanding contribution to drama. Bravo.

Ageing With Grace

As he has aged gracefully in the spotlight, Elba has shared his thoughts on growing older, expressing that he has become more comfortable in his own skin and has learned to appreciate the wisdom and experiences that come with age, and the value of keeping active and upholding a positive mindset.

"Ageing is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been."

Idris Elba: From On-screen Legend, To Global DJ

In addition to his acting career, Elba has pursued his passion for music, establishing himself as a respected DJ and electronic music producer. In fact, he has recently revealed plans to move away from acting to focus more on his musical career path.

Having branched out in the last few years by releasing his own music via his own 7Wallace imprint last year, and collaborations with Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Australian indie group Lime Cordiale, he's also DJed at a number of high profile events, including Coachella.

Last year Elba told Vanity Fair that electronic music is set to become a priority. “Some may think, ‘Well, it will be the death of your acting if your music’s shit’,” he said. “I’ve dealt with the internal struggle of that over the years. So now I’m at peace and I’ve chosen: This is what I’m doing, and I’m going to do it. Some will love it and some will hate it.”

Well, that’s life for you. Sounds like Idris Elba has it well and truly sorted.

Share Your Story

We are big believers that you should be able to design a life you love and not stick to a linear path, especially when it comes to your career choices. In fact, we'd go as far to say that the concept of retirement in its current form needs to be retired. Yes, that's right, there's no rulebook here!