On this day in 1972, a man from Sierra Leone and a woman from Ghana welcomed their only son into the world. They were in London's Hackney area, and the child's name was Idrissa Akuna Elba. He grew up and dropped a syllable from his first name, a small loss on his way to becoming a global icon.
Idris Elba is a multitalented performer who works in the areas of acting and music. He started on the musical route, helping his uncle run a DJ business specializing in weddings, but his ambition led him to start his own company by 1987 at the tender age of fifteen. By 1988 he was working full time while enjoying a grant to attend the National Youth Music Theatre, selling advertising and fitting tires, even going on to work the night shift at a British Ford factory.
His first recognizable role was in 1995 on a period medical drama called Bramwell, followed by spots on Absolutely Fabulous, The Bill, Degrees of Error, Dangerfield and other British series. He moved to New York and found success as Achilles in a stage production of Troilus and Cressida, but it was a supporting role on a 2001 episode of Law & Order that helped him land the groundbreaking role of Russell "Stringer" bell on the HBO series The Wire, which some consider his best and most famous role.
Not enough for him at all, he's had a string of roles since, from farcical turns on NBC's The Office to genre turns in 28 Days Later and playing Heimdall in Marvel's successful blockbuster Thor. Prom Night, RocknRolla, Legacy, Takers, The Losers, — Elba has remained busy, and will continue to do so, executive producing a legal drama for NBC, continuing to play the title character on the BBC's Luther, starring alongside Nic Cage in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (he'll be an alcoholic warrior monk after the title character, not a weird Heimdall analogue) and being directed by Guillermo del Toro for Pacific Rim.
All this has gone on alongside becoming a cultural icon — his excited Tanqueray ads grace billboards around the US, his work as a musician has yieled three EPs (Big Man, High Class Problems Vol. 1 with King Among Kings due out any time now) while appearing on albums for Jay-Z and Pharoahe Monch. He's DJed NBA All-Star parties, popped up in music videos and become a favorite piece of eye candy for ladies everywhere (called one of the "Ten Hottest Men on the Planet" in Essence'sApril 2004 issue and People called him on of the 100 Most Beautiful People in the World in May 2007), especially after his racy role alongside Beyonce and Ali Larter in Obsessed.
A busy artist and creative individual, today's his birthday and we celebrate his body of work.