Elba’s mother, Eve, is a Ghanaian. The two parents were married in Sierra Leone and later moved over to London where Idris was brought up in Hackney and East Ham, and shortened his first name from Idrissa to “Idris” at school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting.
He credits The Stage with giving him his first big break; having seen an advertisement for a play in a newspaper, Elba auditioned and met his first agent while performing in the role.
In 1986, he began helping an uncle with his wedding DJ business; within a year, he had started his own DJ company with some of his friends.
To support himself between roles in Crimewatch reconstructions, he worked in jobs such as tyre-fitting, cold call advertising sales and working night shifts at Ford Dagenham. He was working in nightclubs, under the DJ nickname “Big Driis”, aged nineteen, but began auditioning for television roles in his early twenties.
Hosting last night’s Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony in London, Elba has added another feather on his cap in representing the country’s Green, White and Blue flag higher on the international auditorium.