Idrissa Akuna "Idris" Elba is a English actor, producer, singer, rapper, and DJ. He is best known for his portrayal of drug lord and aspiring businessman Russell "Stringer" Bell in the HBO series The Wire, Detective John Luther in the BBC One series Luther, and Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Elba has been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film, winning one, and for Best Actor, as well as earning three Primetime Emmy Award nominations. He currently portrays Heimdall.
Elba was born in Hackney, London. His father, Winston, was a Sierra Leonean who worked at a Ford motor factory, and his mother, Eve, was a Ghanaian who had a clerical job. Elba's parents married in Sierra Leone and later moved to London. Elba was raised in East Ham, and shortened his first name at school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting. He began helping an uncle with his wedding DJ business in 1986; within a year, he had started his own DJ company with some of his friends.
Elba left school in 1988 and won a place in the National Youth Music Theatre, thanks to a £1,500 Prince's Trust grant, but he ended up having to work in various jobs such as tyre-fitting and cold-call advertising sales to earn an income between roles in Crimewatch murder reconstructions. He was working in nightclubs under the DJ nickname Big Driis at the age of 19, but began auditioning for television parts in his early twenties. After a stint in the National Youth Music Theatre, he worked the night shift at Ford Dagenham.