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How British Actor Idris Elba Embodies Three Unfamiliar Cultures In His CCK Experience

Idris Elba at the Berlinale February 22, 2018. By Harald Krichel. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

As we all know, there is no secret that actor Idris Elba is well-known for his dashing good looks and his ability to move within different cultures.

Idrissa Akuna Elba — or as we know him Idris Elba — is an English actor as well as a producer, writer, singer, rapper, songwriter and DJ. Elba is most well known for his rolls in “The Wire” as well as the character John Luther in the hit TV series “Luther.” He most recently appeared as the villain in “Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw.”

Elba’s parents

What most individuals may not necessarily know about Elba, however is that he is the product of two immigrant parents. His father Winston is from Sierra Leone and his mother Eve was born in Ghana. With two parents born and raised in Africa, Elba was born as an only child in London, England. With the African culture instilled in him whilst growing up in England, Elba embraces being among the Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK) community. However, he considers his father’s native land of Sierra Leone as his home.

African culture

This British film star landed citizenship in Sierra Leone upon his first visit to the country. In a 2019 interview with BBC News, Elba says: “I am no stranger to Africa. I’ve been in Africa, I’ve made films in Africa, I’ve championed Africa. But Sierra Leone, it’s a very different feeling because it’s my parent’s home.” He then adds: “The son of the soil is coming back to fertilize the soil.”

Andrew Doctor, a Third Culture Kid (TCK) and student at Colorado State University, was very surprised to learn about Elba’s cultural background:

I think that it is really amazing hearing that he holds is African culture deep in his heart. I too, moved around a lot being an Army brat. However, I consider England where my grandparents were raised my home as well, even though I have grown up mostly in America. It is something about the home feeling of where you come from that trumps all other global experiences.

(Andrew Doctor 2020)

Elba’s true identity

While he grew up in England and demonstrated a global mobility for his career in Hollywood, neither England nor U.S. culture is what defines who Elba is. He believes that his true culture and home is within the African community, where his parents were born and through those practices that they instilled in him, including even the language of Creole throughout his entire life.

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