Celebrated Hackney star of The Wire and Luther returns to borough to talk about his career
PUBLISHED: 13:21 31 October 2013 | UPDATED: 13:21 31 October 2013
A Hollywood actor returned to his Hackney roots to speak to school pupils about his career last Thursday (Oct 24).
The Wire and Luther actor Idris Elba, who grew up in Holly Street, Dalston spoke to around 100 pupils during an exclusive question and answer session about his on-screen career at the Hackney Picturehouse in Mare Street.
Pupils from East London schools such as BSix Collge in Kenninghall Road, Clapton listened to the star talk about his forthcoming film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom as part of the National Youth Film Festival – which encourages young people to learn through film.
Elba will star as former South African President and revolutionary Nelson Mandela in the film.
The 41-year-old actor, who won a Golden Globe for his role in crime drama series Luther, will star as former South African President and revolutionary Nelson Mandela in the film.
He said “films are as important as reading books”, adding: “They are just a different way to experience something that you probably won’t experience yourself, so if you can get young people into cinemas to watch film, to see different expressions of art, it’s just as important as reading books.”
The star, who was a pupil at Laburnum Primary School in Haggerston before it closed and Kingsland Secondary School in Shacklewell Lane which is now The Petchey Academy, said he had wanted to take part in the festival because he was inspired to become an actor after Fully Monty actor Paul Barber visited his school. He said: “It’s important for people that are on the way up or working to be able to engage with kids, because it happened to me as a kid...
“When I was about 16 an actor came to my drama class at school. His name was Paul Barber. He was in the Full Monty, and he came and sat down with us and I just remember cementing the idea of being an actor with an actual actor – that moment of realisation, he’s a human being and he has a career and he actually went for it. I think often times students can be bedazzled by all the lights and cameras but when they meet someone and can actually put a face to it, it’s tangible, a real person and a real career choice and I think students can get influenced by that.”
Elba admitted he was impressed by the questions pupils asked, saying: “Their reaction positive and they asked some really good questions. They wanted to get into the inner workings of being a working actor and I think hopefully I answered the questions in a way that gives them a little insight and maybe a little inspiration. There were questions about the roles and questions about the journey, maybe some of the questions were about their own fears or worries and asking if I had the same.
“As a young person I definitely shared a sort of wonderment of the industry like they do, and I think it’s a great opportunity to ask someone that has done it.”
National Youth Film Festival is a celebration of film and cinema enabling young people to engage with and learn through film. Fro more information, visit www.nationalyouthfilmfestival.org.