Idris Elba has scooped this year’s Bafta Special Award for his contribution to TV, with a focus on his work in the diversity space.
The Luther star, who just signed a first-look deal with Apple and also runs his own indie, will be awarded and make a speech at next Friday’s Bafta TV Awards, which will take place remotely.
Bafta cited Elba’s starring roles in the likes of BBC1’s Luther and his breakout in The Wire but said his contribution “goes beyond his acting accomplishments”.
His indie Green Door Pictures has focused on “inclusion and opportunities for undiscovered filmmaking talent” since it was founded in 2013, and he has used his influence to challenge parliament on lack of on-screen diversity.
Elba joins last year’s winner Nicola Shindler and the likes of Clare Balding, John Motson and Cilla Black as a recipient of Bafta’s highest honour.
He described it as a “great privilege”.
“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,” said Elba.
“I thank Bafta for recognising 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.”
The news comes following criticism that none of last Friday’s Bafta TV Craft Awards winners were black or Asian, described as “truly shocking” by Directors UK chair Steve Smith, and “reflective of the reality of the UK television industry” by former RTS diversity chair Marcus Ryder.
In the wake of the death of George Floyd, new Bafta chair Krishnendu Majumdar told members the organisation will become “unequivocally anti-racist”, with a new steering group and wide-ranging review of its awards.
This story first appeared on Screen’s sister site Broadcast.