Idrissa Akuna Elba was born on September 6, 1972, in the London Borough of Hackney to Sierra Leonean Creole Winston Elba and Ghanaian Eve. His father, Winston Elba was a worker at the Ford Dagenham plant. His parents got hitched in Sierra Leone before later relocating to London. Elba was raised in East Ham and Hackney. He attended Canning Town High School, where he initially got into acting, he shortened his first name to “Idris.”
He started assisting an uncle with his wedding DJ business in 1986, and a year later he had founded his own DJ firm with a few of his friends.
After completing school in 1988 and receiving a £1,500 Prince’s Trust grant, Elba briefly attended Barking and Dagenham College before obtaining a spot in the National Youth Music Theatre. He did odd jobs like changing tires, cold-calling, and night shifts at Ford Dagenham in his early career to sustain himself between assignments. Although he spent his teenage years working as a DJ in nightclubs under the stage name “Big Driis,” he didn’t start acting in television until he was in his early twenties.
Elba was named the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine in 2018 and Essence’s Sexiest Man of the Year in 2013. A MOBO Inspiration Award was given to him in October 2014.
As part of the 2016 New Year Honors, Elba received the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to theater. In Britain’s “Rear of the Year” competition in 2017, he was named the winner in the male category.
He was one of 50 people honored in September 2018 as part of the 50th anniversary of Time Out magazine for “making London awesome” and influencing the city’s cultural scene. He was named among the top 100 most powerful Brits of African/African-Caribbean origin in the Powerlist’s 2020 and 2021 editions.
Elba has been married three times, first to Hanne “Kim” Nrgaard (from 1999 until 2003) and then to Sonya Nicole Hamlin (for four months in 2006). His two children are a son with his ex-girlfriend Naiyana Garth and a daughter, Isan, with Nrgaard. Early in 2017, Elba started seeing the Somali-Canadian model Sabrina Dhowre. On February 10, 2018, they got engaged while watching his movie Yardie at a theater in East London. On April 26, 2019, they were wed in Marrakech.