Idris Elba is one one of the most talented and versatile actors working in film and TV today, and, okay, we’ll say it, one of the most handsome, too. He brings a fiery intensity to whatever project he’s starring in, be it Beasts of No Nation, Thor: Ragnarok, or The Wire, but what is Idris Elba most proud of? Well, he’s a father, so his eldest daughter, Isan Elba, likely ranks at the top of the list of things he loves most in the world.
According to E! News, Idris has been married three times, and the first was in 1999 with makeup artist and Danish entrepreneur Hanne “Kim” Norgaard. Their marriage lasted just four years, but it gave them Isan, who was raised primarily in Atlanta, Ga., far from the lights and allure of Hollywood. Isan still maintained a relationship with her father, who threw her a lavish, bridal-themed “Sweet 16” party in 2018, and has opened some doors for her in Hollywood. Here’s everything you need to know about Isan Elba, a second-generation celebrity in the making.
2018 was a good year for The Elbas
“Miss Golden Globe” was a part of the annual Golden Globe Awards for years. In 2017, the show’s governing body, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association renamed the position “Golden Globe Ambassador” so as to open it up to a more diverse field, but keeping up the tradition of filling it with the offspring of a very famous performer. The Golden Globe Ambassador gets an on-air introduction and hangs out on the stage all night, escorting presenters and winners off the stage and into the wings. (Past winners of note include Dakota Johnson, Laura Dern, and Melanie Griffith.)
Mere days after movie and TV star Idris Elba was named People‘s Sexiest Man Alive in 2018, his 16-year-old daughter Isan Elba was named the 2019 Golden Globe Ambassador. It was something she was excited to win, but also didn’t know how or why it even happened. As it turns out, her famous father nominated her. “I had no idea,” she told Variety. “My dad texted me and I was like, did he text the wrong number? But then Mom explained it all to me.”
Isan Elba is an advocate for mental health awareness
Being named a Golden Globe Ambassador is not only an honor for a Hollywood teen or young adult, but also something of a modern-day debutante “coming out” party, and also like winning a pageant in that the selected individual can use their platform to raise awareness of a pet cause. “Mental health, specifically among African Americans and my peers in particular, is something I really want to be more vocal about,” 2019 Golden Globe Ambassador Isan Elba told Variety. “There’s this perceived stigma and I’ve seen friends struggle. We need to empower young people to not be afraid to ask for help.”
At a Golden Globes-related luncheon in 2019, Elba explained why bringing mental health discussions into the open is so important to her. “It was only about two years ago that my mom opened up to me,” Elba said (via People), of Hanne “Kim” Norgaard and her struggles with depression, bipolar depression, and anxiety. “We just sat down and talked about it, and I think that was better for her, talking about it and talking about it with someone who means the most in her life and just getting that out.”
During that same luncheon, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the group that runs the Golden Globes) pledged $50,000, in Elba’s honor, to the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, an organization that advocates for changing attitudes toward mental health in the African-American community.
Idris Elba's no nonsense take on #MeToo impressed his daughter
By early 2019, the #MeToo movement was firmly entrenched in Hollywood. Dozens of women who work in the entertainment industry had come forward to call out male colleagues, particularly those in positions with power, for past misdeeds of a sexist or sexual nature. As more and more famous men saw their careers all but ended due to the exposure of their alleged and reported behaviors — Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., and Matt Lauer among them — others registered their hot takes about the upending movement, wondering if #MeToo had gone too far and made supposedly innocent men afraid for their livelihoods. In response to those voices, Idris Elba told the The Sunday Times, “It’s only difficult if you’re a man with something to hide.”
It’s a sentiment with which Elba’s daughter, Isan Elba, whole-heartedly agrees. “I loved what he said, because that is so true,” Isan told Variety, adding, “You shouldn’t be worried about it unless you have something to hide. I’m really into using your influence to talk about stuff, and I guess my dad has a lot of influence.”
You probably won't see Isan Elba on-screen with her dad
As of 2020, Isan Elba is still a bit of a neophyte in the entertainment business. A famous name, and inheriting the looks and charisma of her parents probably won’t hurt her chances, nor will her acting background. “That’s what I’ve always trained to be,” she told Glamour. In fact, she was already making the rounds at the age of five, accompanying her father, Idris Elba, to the premiere of his coincidentally titled film Daddy’s Little Girls.
As of this writing, however, the younger Elba hasn’t done any professional screen acting (or hosting work), and her only credits are from the 2019 Golden Globes and entertainment news shows relating to her appearance as a Golden Globe Ambassador. That reluctance to finally step in front of the camera may have something to do with how, after watching her father direct the film Yardie, she wants to make movies, not star in them. “I really got to see all of the behind-the-scenes, like what the sound department does, the lighting department, the best boy, etc.,” she said. “So I’m definitely thinking about being a filmmaker.”
Perhaps she found the right college to prepare for that profession. New York University is home to an exceptional film school, and in 2019, Isan announced on Twitter that she’d been accepted to NYU.
Covid-19 has already hit very close to home for Isan Elba
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, swept across the world in early 2020. While initial symptoms of the virus are generally mild for most age groups and otherwise healthy people, similar to that of a bad cold — trouble breathing, a dry cough, and fever — they usually go away…but can turn fatal for older people and those with serious medical conditions. As of mid-March 2020, more than 182,000 people across the globe had contracted COVID-19, including famous people like Canada’s First Lady Sophie Grégoire, beloved actor Tom Hanks, and fellow performer Idris Elba.
“I got tested because I realized I was exposed to someone who had also tested positive,” Elba said in a video he tweeted. While Elba didn’t experience any symptoms, he self-quarantined along with his wife, Sabrina Dhowre. “We told our families, they were very supportive,” Elba said, likely referring to his daughter, Isan Elba, who does not seem to be part of the self-imposed health exile with her father and stepmother, and as of press time, has not stated that she’s tested positive for COVID-19 herself.
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