Idris Elba to Receive BAFTA Special Award for Creative Contribution to TV


Idris Elba will be honored at the 2020 Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards with the BAFTA Special Award in recognition of his career and commitment to championing diversity and new talent in the industry.

The Special Award is one of BAFTA’s highest honors, with previous recipients for television including Nicola Shindler, Clare Balding, John Motson, Henry Normal, Nick Fraser, Lenny Henry, Delia Smith and Cilla Black. Elba will receive the award during the ceremony on July 31. Hosted by Richard Ayoade, it will broadcast on BBC One.

Elba first rose to prominence as Stringer Bell in ​The Wire and gained further acclaim for his starring role in the hit BBC drama ​Luther.​ An advocate for diversity and new talent, he founded production company Green Door Pictures in 2013 with a focus on inclusion and opportunity for undiscovered filmmaking talent. The son of African immigrants, Elba’s path to international recognition was set when he received a grant from the Prince’s Trust that allowed him to earn a place at the National Youth Music Theatre.

In 2016, Elba used his influence to challenge British parliament on the lack of diversity on screen and went on to make Queen Elizabeth’s New Year’s Honours List and Time 100’s list of the Most Influential People in the World.

Amanda Berry OBE, chief executive of BAFTA, said: “We’re thrilled to honor Idris Elba OBE with the BAFTA Special Award at this year’s Television Awards ceremony. Idris is one of Britain’s best-known actors in the U.K. 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. We’re delighted to recognize Idris, and his outstanding work, at this year’s ceremony.”

Elba added: ​“It’s a great privilege to be honored with the BAFTA Special Award. 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.”