Idris Elba’s success has not “negated” his experience of racism, having been raised with the idea he had to be “twice as good as the white man” to triumph in life.
On Thursday (June 25, 2020) the 47-year-old Luther star took part in Intelligence Squared’s a live Q&A, The Reckoning: Kwame Kwei-Armah and Idris Elba on the Arts and Black Lives Matter, during which he touched on his experience of racism.
“Success has not negated racism for me,” said The Wire alumni, reported Daily Mail Online. “Asking me about racism is like asking me about how long I have been breathing,” before he went on to explain the first time black people have “any consciousness” around their skin “it is usually about racism.”
“That stays with you regardless of whether you become successful or you beat the system,” he added.
Opening up on the work ethic instilled in him by parents, his late father Winston, who was from Sierra Leone, and his Ghanaian mother Eve, Idris recalled them insisting: “If you want to make it in this world, you have to be twice as good as the white man”, a belief he said became like a “mantra” to him.
The Beasts of No Nation actor explained while he was good at football, he worked just as hard at cricket, “because I was always of that mindset.”
He added: “Before you know it you realise you are quite multi-faceted… you have to have your fingers in many pies”.
Idris has gone onto to forge a successful career in Hollywood following his breakout role in HBO’s The Wire, starring in Marvel’s Thor franchise and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as bagging the lead role in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.