Acclaimed British actor, writer and producer Idris Elba will receive a BAFTA Special Award for his creative contribution to television and his commitment to championing diversity and new talent in the industry.
The Special Award is one of the British Academy’s highest honors, with previous recipients for television including Nicola Shindler, Clare Balding, John Motson, Henry Normal, Nick Fraser, Lenny Henry, Delia Smith and Cilla Black.
Elba’s breakout came in HBO’s “The Wire” and he shot to international fame with his starring role in hit BBC drama “Luther,” for which he won a Golden Globe and scored several Primetime Emmy and BAFTA nominations. Last year, Elba starred in and executive produced the fifth season of “Luther.” Sky’s “In The Long Run,” created by and starring Elba, inspired by his own experiences, is back soon for a third season.
He founded production company Green Door Pictures in 2013 with a focus on inclusion, aligning with Film London, Creative Access and the MAMA Youth Project to provide on-the-job training and to help undiscovered talent find a way into the industry.
In 2016, Elba challenged British parliament on the lack of diversity on screen, and the same year, he was named in Queen Elizabeth’s New Year’s Honors List and Time 100’s list of the Most Influential People in the World.
His film credits include “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” “Beasts of No Nation” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
“It’s been a mission of mine to provide opportunity and access to emerging talent from diverse backgrounds in this industry, which is the same opportunity I received many years ago from open-minded and diversity-conscious casting,” Elba said.
“I thank BAFTA for recognizing myself and others who are dedicated to the same cause, as these are all necessary steps towards helping to shift the awareness and understanding of the diversity gap in entertainment.”
“Idris is one of Britain’s best known actors in the U.K. and internationally, with a long and successful career on-screen, and an accomplished director, producer and writer,” said BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry. “He is also a driving force for championing diversity, ensuring talented people from all backgrounds achieve their potential. We’re delighted to recognize Idris, and his outstanding work, at this year’s ceremony.”
Elba will receive the award at the British Academy Television Awards on July 31. The awards will be hosted by Richard Ayoade (“The Double”).