The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) on Tuesday announced that actor Idris Elba will receive the BAFTA Special Award this year. According to a press release, the “Luther” star will be bestowed with the honour in recognition of his exceptional career and his commitment to championing diversity and new talent in the industry.
The Special Award is one of BAFTA’s highest honours, with previous recipients for TV including Nicola Shindler, Clare Balding, John Motson, Henry Normal, Nick Fraser, Lenny Henry, Delia Smith and Cilla Black.
Elba, also a writer and producer, will receive the award at the British Academy Television Awards on July 31. Elba’s breakout came in HBO’s “The Wire” and he shot to global fame with his starring role in hit BBC drama “Luther”, for which he won a Golden Globe and earned several Primetime Emmy and BAFTA nominations.
Drama series “In The Long Run”, created by and starring Elba, inspired by his own experiences, will return for a third season.
In 2013, he joined hands with Film London, Creative Access and the MAMA Youth Project to launch his production banner, Green Door Pictures, with an aim to promote inclusion, provide on-the-job training and to help undiscovered talent find a way into the industry.
Three years later, 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”, “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”.
Elba expressed gratitude to the British Academy for this recognition.
“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.
“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,” the 47-year-old actor said in a statement.
BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry said they are delighted to recognise Elba, and his outstanding work, at this year’s ceremony.
“Idris is one of Britain’s best known actors in the UK and internationally, with a long and successful career on-screen, and an accomplished director, producer and writer.
He is also a driving force for championing diversity, ensuring talented people from all backgrounds achieve their potential,” Berry added.
The awards will be hosted by British comic Richard Ayoade.