Isan Elba, the daughter of actor Idris Elba and makeup artist and businesswoman Kim Norgaard, will serve as the 2019 Golden Globe Ambassador at the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 6. She appeared at a Golden Globes luncheon on Thursday, where HFPA president Meher Tatna announced that Isan Elba’s charity of choice would be the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which raises awareness about mental health issues in the African-American community. Variety caught up with the 16-year-old, who turns 17 on Friday, at the luncheon to talk about stepping up to the ambassador role, her love for Gaga, and her father’s recent #MeToo comments.
How do you feel with three days to the event?
I have no nerves. Literally, I have no nerves. Everybody’s like, “What?” I just got my dress yesterday, wasn’t nervous, wasn’t freaking out about not having a dress. I’m just really chill. I think on the day of, all of that’s going to catch up with me. Hopefully not, though.
Is there someone you’re dying to meet?
Lady Gaga. I’ve been a Gaga fan since I was a little girl. So 12-year-old me is going to scream.
What would you say to her?
She’s an inspiration. I would be like, “Gaga, I don’t want to waste your time, but thank you so much for being an inspiration for me and being yourself.” Because she’s ahead of her time. People are now embracing their weirdness that people are talking about and now it’s coming out of everybody and it’s more in the norm to do that and she did that, and I think that’s so amazing.
Was there a film or show that moved you in 2018?
“Pose.” I love anything by Ryan Murphy and it’s about the transgender community and I thought it was so interesting because you have the balls, but it’s not all about glamour. It’s about what they went through and the hate that was put toward them. It’s so upsetting and sad that that had to happen. I think it’s a great representation. It teaches you lessons, and I think that’s what our society needs at this point. Just something that progresses, not just a little sitcom.
What did you think about the comments your dad made about #MeToo? (In a recent interview with the Sunday Times, Idris Elba said the #MeToo movement is “only difficult if you’re a man with something to hide.”)
I mean, yes. That was it. That was it. I loved what he said, because that is so true. 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. And being a male that says that — a lot of guys look up to him, or people see him in the public eye and he said that, it was like a statement. It was one quick short statement, but it has influence and I think it was really really cool that he’s said that.
What made you want to pick mental health as your philanthropic effort?
My mom suffers from mental illness and being able to have this platform, and talk about something that I care about and that hits home, was really like, “Yes, I have to do this.” It’s something I care about and like I said, using your influence to talk about something you care about or an issue that needs to be fixed, I thought it was the perfect opportunity. And after this, I will still continue to advocate for mental health. And in the African-American community and among teenagers, because I’m both, and it’s such taboo in both communities.