This summer, black Hollywood’s hottest actor, Idris Elba, will host the 14th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF).
The British thespian, who made a name for himself as Russell “Stringer” Bell on HBO’s critically acclaimed drama ‘The Wire,’ signed up for his ambassador role in part to continue to inspire and encourage African Americans in the film industry.
“One of the reasons why I took on the ambassadorship is [because] I want to do directing and storytelling, and in the future I feel like with the energy I’m bringing in, I’m going to bring in more people and explore that world.”
“It gives me the opportunity to vibe with filmmakers,” Elba told BV Newswire today during an interview. “I feel relatively new in comparison to some of the cats writing scripts.”
Elba, who considers ABFF “the greatest film festival in the world,” credits it with helping him nail his first lead film role in the 2005 Rob Hardy-directed film ‘The Gospel.’
“It was this very platform that allowed me to be cast in the starring role of Reverend Charles Fran in the drama film ‘The Gospel,’ which is an independent film,” he said. “I came to the festival when I wasn’t really on the map, and I made a few connects that still help me now.”
“As an ambassador, I’m really encouraging young filmmakers to come to this film festival to check out the vibe, even if film is something you’ve had a romance with and don’t know how to get into,” he continued.
ABFF weekend will take place in Miami this year from June 23 through June 26. The festival, which was established in 1997 by Film Life, Inc.’s Jeff Friday with the help of financial backing from HBO, seeks to strengthen the black filmmaking community through panel discussions, film showcases and contests to highlight emerging talent.
This year, women in film and television are the focus of the festival. There will be an all-woman grand jury to judge the HBO Short Film Award, as well as prizes for best film, best documentary and best performance by an actor, Winners will take home between $5,000 and $20,000 in prizes.
Since starring in the 2009 blockbuster ‘Obsessed’ with superstar Beyonce Knowles, Elba is gearing up for what he considers his biggest movie year yet.
“This is an exciting year for me. I have three film,s which is unheard of for me,” he explained.
“I’m a very fortunate person [and] I believe good things happen to good people. One of the things that kept me in the game is my interest in the business. I educate myself on what’s happening and who I should know, what filmmakers are doing what.”
Next month, the People magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful People in the World” hunk will star in ‘The Losers,’ alongside Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans and Jeffery Dean Morgan. After that, he stars in ‘Takers,’ an action movie reuniting him with Saldana, T.I., Chris Brown, Matt Dillon and Hayden Christensen, which hits theaters in August.
At the festival, Elba plans to hold a screening for his film ‘Legacy,’ which he executive produced and stars in.
“My film ‘Legacy’ is not designed for black audiences, but I want to show it at ABFF so people can say, ‘Wow, we can make movies that are not for particularly for black audiences,'” Elba shared. “There are other stories about us as people that we can tell without focusing on the negative aspects of our community. We are very dynamic people.”
In addition to wrapping up his Marvel comics action picture ‘Thor, Elba, who appeared on seven episodes of ‘The Office’ in 2009, is also developing a legal drama for NBC. But with all of those things at the forefront, the 37-year-old sex symbol remains excited for ABFF — and there’s no telling where people might run into ambassador Elba.
“I intend to be among the people and the filmmakers,” he laughed.
“I want the people to come and see me. If you have a question for me, it’s a time for me to meet and discuss it. You want to be able to touch everybody, but I will make myself available for panels and forums and discussions. Clearly, I have a young filmmaker’s voice. I’m not a cat that’s been in the game forever. I feel relatively new, so I feel like the cats writing scripts.”
In his spare time, the man that Black Voices editors named one of the “Top 30 Sexiest Black Actors of All Time” has been focusing on his love for music. He just released an EP on Amazon called ‘High Class Problems’ and plans to continue deejaying parties and hitting the studio.
Early registration discounts end on March 31. For more information on the ABFF, head to www.ABFF.com.