LOS ANGELES — When it comes to dad duties in Hollywood, “Yardie” director Idris Elba has set the standard high. The Golden Globe award winner and five-time nominee took initiative by secretly dropping his 17-year-old daughter Isan Elba’s name into the running for this year’s HFPA Golden Globe Ambassador without her knowing.
The role, which received a name change last year, is traditionally reserved for the child of a celebrity and definitely casts them in a good light. Take Isan Elba’s predecessors Laura Dern and Dakota Johnson, for example.
Naturally, with a decade of classical training as an actress and access to the set life, Elba is optimistic about her ambassadorship.
“It’s such an honor to be in that line of people,” she said Thursday afternoon at The Beverly Hilton hotel for a luncheon in her honor. “They have all done such great things in the entertainment industry. It just hopefully sets the mood for what’s to come in the future for me.”
The gathering included a discussion to address Elba’s cause of choice as an ambassador: mental health and the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which garnered a $50,000 donation from the HFPA before the conversation began.
Sitting next to panelists Jordyn Woods, comedian Alicia Lutes and Mindsail cofounders Lauren Wallack and Elyse Colen, she noted, “My mother suffers from mental illness. With this platform that I’ve been given, I decided to use it to support something I can relate to and believe in. I’m a teenager and an African American and in both communities it is so taboo. One in five Americans suffers and that’s crazy to me that people don’t talk about it as much. We need to start initiatives from a young age with schools and open up ways for people to talk and to make it more normal.”
Woods commented, “I’ve also struggled with a lot of mental health issues because my dad passed away and I went through all of these things and my way of therapy and finding myself was through working out. I was dedicated to the gym. That was my way of disconnecting and really putting my time into something positive. I didn’t know how to cope with it at the time and I found that helped me the most. Also through working out, it helped me to boost this glo-up and find more of my confidence. I just turned 21 and I’m still figuring it out, but I feel like I’m in a really good place now.”
Considering her personal life, Elba has had her eyes set on a life behind the scenes in roles like director, screenwriter or cinematographer, but her freshly minted role as ambassador for the 76th Globes ceremony reeled her back to her first love, acting.
“[My dad] was a little concerned,” she said. “But he’s always behind me with whatever I do. I guess you’d say it’s a demanding career. It’s all worth it, but you have to sacrifice.”
The first trade-off? Her birthday weekend.
“I consider the Golden Globes my party,” she joked. “Last year, I had a huge celebration, but this is the real deal. I invited Lady Gaga.”
For the ultimate fete, her 18th birthday and worldwide debut, Isan Elba has luminous and top-secret plans concerning her look. “It’s a surprise, but I can tell you that it’s dark princess vibes,” she said. “We just got it yesterday. It was the last dress that I saw and I was like, that’s the one.”