Home > Categories > Art and Entertainment > Actors > Idris Elba's Biography

Idris Elba's Biography

Browse biogs A-Z

Idris Elba's parents came from Sierra Leone. His father won a scholarship to study marketing in the UK and that is where Idris was born on September 6, 1972.

At his school in Canning Town he had a crush on his drama teacher Miss Sue McFee, but she proved crucial in encouraging him to act.

Although keen on starting a career in acting, initially Idris Elba worked on the production line of Ford in Dagenham.

However, Idris Elba got a place in the National Youth Music Theatre and was awarded a grant by the Prince's Trust.

After starting his career in theatre, Elba started to pick up roles on TV including parts in Dangerfield, Bramwell and Ultraviolet.

Ultraviolet proved particularly important to Idris Elba's career development as Fox adapted the Channel 4 show and Elba used the opportunity to try to further his acting career in the USA.

Initially, Elba struggled in the States and started to DJ in bars to earn money, but then he made appearances in TV series like Soul Food and Law & Order.

Elba's major breakthrough came when he was cast as Russell "Stringer" Bell in the HBO police drama, The Wire.

Elba also gained several parts in movies including as Augustin Muganza in HBO's Sometimes in April, as Ben in The Reaping with Hilary Swank, as Monty in Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls, and as Stone alongside Robert Carlyle in 28 Weeks Later.

In March 2008, Idris Elba appeared in the BBC's The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

In 2008, Elba was also working on the thriller Obsessed alongside Beyoncé Knowles and RocknRolla with Gemma Arterton.

As well as his acting, Idris Elba also works as a DJ, under the name Big Driis, and has released a hip-hop record.

In 2009, he was cast in the lead role in a six-part psychological drama on the BBC, called Luther. The thriller proved popular and was recommissioned and the role won Elba many accolades including a Golden Globe.

On 30 December 2015, it was announced that Idris Elba had been awarded an OBE for services to drama.

In 2016, at the SAG awards, Idris Elba won the best male actor in a supporting role award for his role as the Commandant in Beasts of No Nation and also Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie for his role as Luther.

In February 2016, there were reports that Idris Elba had broken up with his long-term girlfriend Naiyana Garth, the mother of his son Winston.

In July 2016, his film Bastille Day was pulled from cinemas in France after the deadly lorry attack in Nice.

In 2016, he was also cast alongside Gemma Arterton in the film 100 Streets.

On 31 October 2016, Idris Elba made his kickboxing debut at London’s York Hall and scored a knockout win over his opponent.

He is scheduled to front a three-part documentary series Idris Elba: Fighter for the Discovery Channel.

In October 2018, it was revealed that Idris Elba had co-written a stage show Tree about life in South Africa after Nelson Mandela, which would premiere in Manchester in 2019.

In 2019, he was also cast as Macavity in the film adaptation of Cats.

In 2022, he was cast as workaholic doctor Nate Samuels in the film Best.

In the same year he hosted the BBC documentary series Idris Elba's Fight School in which disadvantaged young people learn discipline, focus and determination at a boxing school.

Idris Elba: Motivational Video

In April 2019, Idris Elba married Sabrina Dhowre, a former Miss Vancouver.

He had previously been married to Hanne Norgaard and Sonya Hamlin.

In December 2019, Idris Elba was given citizenship to his father's native Sierra Leone.

In July 2020, it was revealed that he was to receive the Bafta special award for television.

Idris Elba and his wife Sabrina are ambassadors for the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Back to Top

Latest User CommentsAdd your comment
Add your comment
To ensure you are a real person and not a computer please enter the following characters shown below: