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Idrissa Akuna "Idris" Elba is a British actor, singer, rapper and producer who has starred in both British and American productions. He grew up in Canning Town, East London. He is best known for playing Russell "Stringer" Bell (a Baltimore drug lord and aspiring businessman) in HBO's critically acclaimed show The Wire and the title role of Detective John Luther in Luther, which airs on BBC One. Idris Elba has won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of DCI Luther. One of Idris Elba's first acting roles was in the soap opera Family Affairs. Other television work has included Ultraviolet, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, and recurring roles in The Office and The Big C. As a film actor, Elba has appeared in American Gangster, Takers, The Losers, Thor, Prometheus and Pacific Rim. In addition to his acting work, Idris Elba is a DJ under the moniker DJ Big Driis/Big Driis the Londoner, and a hip-hop soul recording artist.
An only child, Idris Elba was born Idrissa Akuna Elba in Hackney, London. He shortened his first name at school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting. His father, Winston, was a Sierra Leonean and worked at a Ford factory, and his mother, Eve, was a Ghanaian and had a clerical job.Elba's parents married in West Africa before moving to London. Idris Elba was raised in East Ham, and began helping an uncle with his wedding-DJ business in 1986 and within a year, he had started his own DJ company with some of his friends. Elba left school in 1988 and later won a place in the National Youth Music Theatre, thanks to a £1,500 Prince’s Trust grant, but he later ended up having to do everything from tyre-fitting to cold-call advertising sales to pay the rent between roles in Crimewatch murder reconstructions. Elba was working in nightclubs under the DJ nickname Big Driis in 1991, but began auditioning for television parts in his early twenties. After a stint in the National Youth Music Theatre, Elba worked the night shift at Ford Dagenham.
Although his film, television, and stage work officially commenced around 1992, in 1995 he landed his first role on a series called Bramwell, a medical drama set in 1890s England. His first credited role arrived in 1995, with a supporting role as a gigolo on the episode of Absolutely Fabulous, entitled "Sex." Many supporting roles on British television followed, including such series as The Bill and The Ruth Rendell Mysteries. He joined the cast of the soap opera Family Affairs and rose to prominence in the acclaimed serial Ultraviolet. He went on to appear in a more established television series, Dangerfield, in 1999, playing a forensic scientist. He decided to move to New York City soon after. He returned to England occasionally for a job, such as a part in one of the Inspector Lynley Mysteries, a top-rated crime series. In 2001, Idris Elba played Achilles in a stage production of Troilus and Cressida in New York City. After a supporting turn on a 2001 episode of Law & Order, he landed a starring role on a 2002 HBO drama, The Wire. From 2002 to 2004, Elba portrayed Russell "Stringer" Bell in the HBO drama series, perhaps his best known role in the US. In 2005, he portrayed Captain Augustin Muganza in Sometimes in April, an HBO film about the Rwandan Genocide. Elba appeared on the 2007 BET special Black Men: The Truth. Idris Elba appeared in the role of Charlie Gotso in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency opposite Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose, filmed in Botswana. The series premiered on 23 March 2008, Easter Sunday, on BBC One, receiving a high 6.3 million viewers and 27% of the audience share.
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