Fans of Idris Elba have another reason to love the hugely successful actor as he has thrown his considerable influence behind a new initiative to celebrate new and diverse talent. The actor has created and curated a series of content for BBC Three spanning the areas of comedy, drama, music, sport and documentary, which begins on 27 March for a week. He will be making an appearance in five by five, a drama split into five parts that highlights chance encounters between characters that question identity and change perceptions.
With an enviable Hollywood career and a steady flow of work at home too, the Luther actor says he was keen to bring together emerging writers, director and actors to work with more established talent in his project. He said: “The project was developed with the intention of giving writers the space to be creative, to play, to be super imaginative and collaborate together. Actually, for everyone to do that – the whole team. We wanted the content to be built with as few restrictions as possible.”
The series of programming is being billed as The Idris Takeover, and you can begin to understand why, as he has been very involved in the various processes. He even spent some time in the writing room with the writers of the films. He says: “It was great to be able to join the process for a little while. The energy and ideas in that room were really exciting. I went in there and gave some feedback, threw in a few alternative thoughts and was able to offer an outside perspective because I wasn’t in there the whole time. Having a diverse bunch of writers meant everyone had their own experiences and insights to offer, never just one point of view.”
It’s obvious that Idris is keen to offer opportunities to up and coming talent as a way to give back. “When I started out I didn’t have the opportunities I wanted for myself – I’ll never forget that… so it’s a great thing to be able to give newer actors a space in which to work with those with a bit more experience, to watch and learn from them or even just to chat and be inspired to think, that could be me! – especially in terms of diverse talent. Young people need to see others like them who are doing it to be encouraged. Not just in front of the camera but across the board in the industry in general.”
So what are the key themes of five by five, in which he makes an appearance? He said: “A lot of it is about identity – how a person views themselves in a certain situation, with different people, or depending on what’s happened to them that day. And then there’s the perception of others to that individual – how they present themselves versus how they are viewed.”
I’m sure this isn’t the last we are seeing of Idris giving a leg up to the next generation of new talent. Speaking about the whole experience, Idris said: “It’s reinforced for me that there’s so much talent out there that need to be given opportunities! We have to bolster the next generation.”
The Idris Takeover begins on Monday 27 March on BBC Three for five days.