Idris Elba thinks young people need to “speak out about what matters”.
The 47-year-old actor remembers enjoying a happy childhood in east London, even though he was surrounded by crime and poverty, and Idris has now encouraged young people to “make things better” for future generations.
Speaking at WE Day UK 2020 at the SSE Arena in London on Wednesday (March 4), Idris shared: “Happy is my normal. Yes, there was crime. Yes, there was poverty. Yes, there were gangs.
“Some of the people I grew up with, people I saw around the neighbourhood, went down the wrong path, ended up doing the wrong thing.
“I was different. I was lucky, maybe. I wanted different things.”
Idris credits his parents for setting him on the road to success.
“We all need to be conscious about the world we live in because it is our responsibility to make things better together.”— Idris Elba
The Hollywood star explained that they taught him “the importance of independence” and hard work.
He said: “I was an only child by immigrant parents from Sierra Leone, West Africa. And they worked hard for what they had. This way of life taught me the importance of independence and relying on myself for my own success.”
Then, Idris encouraged the young people among the audience to speak out about societal ills, such as knife crime, sexism and racism.
He said: “You are all capable of making an impact so speak out about what matters – whether that is fighting against knife crime, global hunger, housing, education, sexism, combating racism.
“We all need to be conscious about the world we live in because it is our responsibility to make things better together.”
Meanwhile, in 2016, Idris bemoaned the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry.
The actor also discussed the need for better representation of women and disabled people.
He said: “You have to ask the question – are black people normally playing petty criminals? Are women always the love interest or talking about men? Are gay people always stereotyped? Are disabled people ever seen at all?”