Idris Elba, the British actor People magazine pegged as one of the sexiest men alive, is more than just tall, dark, and handsome. The renaissance man has morphed his love for culture, music, and acting into a $40 million empire — leading in some of the most iconic roles on the big screen and working with some of the world’s most celebrated artists.
Most people know him as a blockbuster movie star, but Elba has other streams of income that celebrate his love for life.
In 1987, at the age of 15, Elba started his first business venture — becoming a turntable maestro and popular DJ throughout London. This laid the groundwork for Elba to spin and perform as a rapper under the name of Big Driis.
However, he did not start off commanding six figures to spin at high profile parties like the royal wedding reception of Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.
In the early days he struggled trying to balance being a DJ and a budding actor, especially as a recent transplant to the United States.
In fact, he said in an interview with GQ in 2013, he resorted to hustling to make ends meet.
“I was running with cats. I mean, I was DJing, but I was also pushing bags of weed; I was doing my work. I had to. I know that sounds corny, but this is the truth,” he recalled.
Now according to Celebrity Talent International, he can spin a night set for as much as $299K.
Being so close to music, it only makes sense that at some time he would try his hand at making music.
The first musical project he recorded and released was called “Big Man” in 2006. His first single “Please Be True,” dropped in 2009 and was followed up by the “Kings Among Kings” EP in 2009. The next year, he dropped “High Class Problems,” which enjoyed some critical acclaim, securing him a Billboard Music Awards nomination, Far Out Magazine reports.
In 2013, Elba had hoped to focus on his music, saying, “This year, I’m not going to work as an actor and I’m going to put my mind into music. It’s a progression thing with me. I want to make music but I don’t want to shove it down people’s throats.”
By 2014, he released the album “Mi Mandela,” followed in 2016 by “Murdah Loves John,” and his last project in 2022, “Cordi Elba.”
One of the creative investments is actually outside of music. According to TechCrunch, Elba, who is a United Nations goodwill ambassador, invested an undisclosed amount of money into Huel, a European provider of nutritional products. He and his wife, Sabrina, joined a round of funding that raised $24 million for the five-year-old company, which has a valuation of $560 million.
Another investment, launched in 2019, is his clothing brand, Don’t Stab Your Future or DSYF. With this clothing brand, he is making a statement against knife crimes in the United Kingdom.
He also owns his own entertainment production house called Green Door Pictures.
In 2020, British actor Idris Elba got into the wine business when he partnered with two French estates to develop his own label, Porte Noire. The “Luther” actor curated a Champagne and rosé for his brand; a Provence rosé and blanc de blancs Grand Cru Champagne are produced by Chateau Sainte Marguerite and Champagne Sanger, respectively. The wines are distributed in the UK by Enotria&Coe.
Once his wine debuted, Elba decided to expand into wine bars. He opened one in London and was attempting recently to open one in Battersea, a large district in south London.
The Big and Small Screens
The majority of Elba’s wealth comes from his acting career. As one of the world’s highest-paid actors, he is rumored to have pulled $8 million for his role as Bloodsport in “The Suicide Squad,” $8 million to star in “Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw” and $10 million to star in “Sonic 2,” Parade reports.
Elba is also a box office blockbuster, with all his movies bringing in over $10 billion throughout his career.
The actor pulls in money from speaking engagements, commercials, and other sources — which many believe range from $200,000 to possibly $2 million to show up.
But then there is his work behind the camera that is pulling in big bank.
His company Green Door Pictures was founded in 2013 with the mission to uplift the community, putting out everything from television shows, anime series, animated shows, and movies. Some of his projects are “Turn Up Charlie,” “In The Long Run,” “The Idris Takeover,” “Yardie” and the documentary “Mandela, My Dad and Me.” In 2020, he released “Concert Cowboys” on Netflix and signed a first-look deal with AppleTV+ to produce features and series for the streaming platform.
Looks, brains, and massive wealth, Elba is a renaissance man changing the game.