Leadership (Abuja)

13 October 2012

Nigeria: Idris Elba, Africa's Son in Hollywood

Photo: Leadership
Idris Elba

It is hard to come across a member of the top brass in Hollywood, who has not heard the name Idris Elba.

Numerous Hollywood big shots will tell you of their experiences with Elba - and why they think he is one of Africa's best heads in that part of the filmmaking world.

Born to a Sierra Leonean father and a Ghanaian mother on September 6, 1972, Elba is a 2010 BET Best Actor winner, who has starred in several very popular movies, including the epic sci-fi Prometheus, the superhero movie Thor, and the rather touching Rwandan-genocide-inspired title Sometimes in April. He also featured in American Gangster,Daddy's Little Girls, The Losers, Takers, Obsessed and The Gospel, among others.

The story is also told of how he left school in 1988 and later joined the National Youth Music Theatre courtesy of a grant.

According to one report, Elba worked the night shift at a Ford factory in Dagenham, London in 1989 and 1990.

Consistently, and from very small beginnings, he has grown from that young, shy-looking boy on the streets of Canning Town, East London, into a big time actor known around the world.

The sad truth and this is something Elba spoke of for years is that, getting a breakthrough in a market like Hollywood is almost impossible for persons of his background. But he would also tell you of how hard work, dedication and perseverance can get you roles you never dreamed of landing.

The road to the top of Elba's career and the successes that have since followed his entrance into one of the world's biggest film markets has been described by many industry stalwarts as an idea whose time had come. Elba remains after so many years of proving his fine talent a typical example of ajourney of sweet-sourperpetual excellenceto the apex of his trade.

With so enviable an accolade as "The Sexiest Man Alive" to his credit, Elba does a good job of keeping the public's attention on himself, by continuously excelling in his field.

Elba has also acted in series and operas such as Family Affairs, The Wire, Bramwell, The Bill,Ultraviolet,The InspectorLynley Mysteries, Degrees of Error, The Governor, and The Office, playing opposite Steve Carrell.

After chalking up enormous success on British television, Elba moved to the United States of America to pursue a bigger dream.

Moving base to the USA, Elba has argued, was necessitated by the comparatively smaller roles that were available in the UK. It would later turn out that the move was entirely justified, as he started getting the bigger roles he had always dreamt of.

Elba, a multitalented individual, who appeared on a 2007 Black Entertainment Television (BET) special, Black Men: The Truth also co-produced a track on Jay-Z's album, "American Gangster". In the late 80s through to the early 90s he played as a disc jockey in most of the UK's top Nightclubs, under the names "Big Driis", and "Big Driis the Londoner.

It has been suggested that his most iconic role yet is playing Russell "Stringer" Bell, a Baltimore drug lord in the HBO series,The Wire. The 2007 Tyler-Perry produced film Daddy's Little Girls, also brought him worldwide recognition, as well as the BBC-produced series,Luther, which won him a Golden Globe.

Climbing higher and higher to the top of a bright career, Elba is also expected to play a major part in the highly anticipated Guillermo Del Toro sci-fi adventure Pacific Rim. Tipped by the film's producers to be a "beautiful poem to giant monsters", the film is set to hit worldwide theatres in July 2013.

Pacific Rim is "set in a world, where soldiers piloting giant robots battle against giant monsters that have mysteriously risen five miles from beneath the ocean".

Elba plays General Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim, replacing Tom Cruise, who was initially considered for the role.

Seemingly, the only way is up for this talented young man of African descent.

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InFocus

A Son Of Africa Pursuing His Dream In Hollywood

Idris Elba

Born to a Sierra Leonean father and a Ghanaian mother, Idris Elba is one of Africa's best heads in the Hollywood film-making world. Read more »