People magazine announced actor Idris Elba as 2018 “Sexiest Man Alive” Tuesday, but we’d like to honor the star with another accolade.
The 46-year-old British heartthrob deserves some praise for being a global citizen, too.
“It was a nice surprise — an ego boost for sure,” the British actor, known for roles like ranging from Stringer Bell in The Wire to Heimdall in Thor,told People.
We believe people can end extreme poverty around the world if they come together to take action. Throughout his career, Elba has supported a range of social issues that affect global poverty, from health to education.
Here are just six ways Elba has proven he’s committed to creating a better world.
1. He Played One of the Most Influential Global Citizens on Screen
In 2013, Elba took on the challenging role of playing South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Mandela was a revolutionary figure in dismantling the systemic racial discrimination that ruled over South Africa between 1948 and 1994 known as apartheid, before becoming the country's first black head of state.
Elba described the moving night he spent in Mandela’s prison cell — where the activist spent 18 years for trying to overthrow the oppressive government — to prepare for the role.
“I had the most amazing sense of loss. I was like, ‘Wow.’ And it just put it into perspective about what Madiba had gone through,” Elba told Oprah.
2. A UK Youth Charity Named Him Anti-Crime Ambassador
Elba penned a piece in Mirror detailing how the Prince’s Trust, an organization with the goal of helping young people get their lives on track, changed his life while growing up in poverty surrounded by racial tension in London’s Hackney area. Elba says he wouldn’t have attended music school at the age of 16 if it weren’t for a grant from organization.
As an ambassador, he promoted education in underserved communities by meeting with young people seeking support from the Prince’s Trust.
3. He Received the Britannia Humanitarian Award
Elba was honored in 2013 for using his position as a public figure to highlight humanitarian causes.
“Idris Elba has used his success in film and television to turn the spotlight towards a very deserving cause. His work with the Prince’s Trust for disadvantaged youth is highly commendable, and in complete accord with BAFTA Los Angeles' own work in the inner city," said Gary Dartnall, Chairman, BAFTA Los Angeles.
4. He Backed an Affordable Housing Project Named After Him
In 2011, the nonprofit organization A2Dominion New Homes named its £6.2 million affordable housing project in the Hackney London neighborhood after Elba. In many regions of the world, there are more low-income households than available affordable housing.
“As a former Hackney resident myself, I was pleased to open Elba House at the Andre Street development, which will bring modern, affordable new homes to local people," he said.
5. He Joined the Fight Against the Ebola Virus
Elba, whose parents are from Sierra Leone, a West African country that has been affected by Ebola, attended meetings to urge world leaders to fight the crisis and invest in long-term prevention and treatment strategies in 2014.
6. He Supported Syrian Refugees in a Banksy Video
Elba provided the voiceover in a vigil video marking the third anniversary in the crisis in Syria, in 2014. In the animated video using Banksy’s iconic imagery, Elba asks the world to stand with the country’s refugees.