An only child, Idris Elba was born and raised in Hackney, London, England. His father, Winston, is from Sierra Leone and worked at a Ford motor factory. His mother, Eve, is from Ghana and had a clerical duty. Idris went to school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting. He gained a place in the National Youth Music Theatre – thanks to a £1,500 Prince’s Trust grant.
He worked as a disc jockey in nightclubs under the nickname DJ Big Driis at age 19. However, he began auditioning for television roles in his early twenties. He has starred in both British and American productions. One of his first acting roles was on the British soap opera Family Affairs (1997). His breakthrough role came when he landed a starring role on the American television series The Wire (2002). He later starred in the films Prom Night (2008), RocknRolla (2008), The Unborn (2009) and Obsessed (2009). He also appeared in the films American Gangster (2007), Takers (2010), Thor (2011), Prometheus (2012), Pacific Rim (2013) and Thor: The Dark World (2013).