Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba on how their parents inspired activism


Actors Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba say their parents were driving forces behind their own activism today, which focuses on food security.

Idris Elba was inspired by his father’s work in the Ford union and the stories he would tell him about it, where he worked for many years.

“I remember my dad wasn’t getting paid extra money for being in the union. He just got such pride in fighting for those that didn’t have a voice and, you know, going up against the guy,” Elba told CNBC’s Tania Bryer on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“We’re privileged to be able to speak and so that’s why, how my dad really sort of encouraged me to do that,” Elba added.

Elba said he came from a “humble” background, with both of his parents leaving their villages for “big dreams.” His main motivator for working hard, and starting to work early in his life, was matching these dreams, he said.

“It really allows me at my seat of privilege is, what I do now, to just remember where I come from and where there are people there that would like to get her or would like to, you know, fight poverty and don’t have a voice to do that. So that’s what really sort of inspires me,” Elba said.

For Sabrina Dhowre Elba it was her mother that shaped her drive to give back, she said.

“For me, my mother is everything,” Dhowre Elba told CNBC. “Her stories and her passion really just kind of just bled into everything I do,” she added.

She also first introduced the Elba couple to the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development, for which they are now goodwill ambassadors, Sabrina explained. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, the couple was among the winners of the annual Crystal Award, which recognizes artists that are also role models for global leaders.

A trip to Sierra Leone also inspired her due to the stories she heard from locals, Dhowre Elba explained. “It was a life-changing trip for me,” she said. “Why I go on field visits so often with the organization is because you really remember that small things can make such huge changes.”


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