Idris Elba has spoken about his two children, daughter Isan and son Winston, over the years
Idris Elba is a proud dad to two kids: daughter Isan and son Winston.
The Luther actor shares Isan with ex-wife Hanne "Kim" Nørgaard and Winston with ex-girlfriend Naiyana Garth. “They’re a part of me,” Elba told PEOPLE of his kids in 2017, explaining that they motivate him through tough times. “They are the reason I get up and do it.”
“When it’s a hard day and I think about bringing them up, I go, ‘Thank you for existing so I have a purpose,’ ” he added.
Elba works hard to instill a sense of gratitude in his children as well: “I try to get them to be appreciative for what they have and who they are,” he said. “That’s a challenge in this day, just reminding the kids being here, what we’re doing right now, is real."
Welcoming Isan and Winston — in 2002 and 2014, respectively — has also helped the actor and DJ to nurture his relationship with himself. “My children love me and maybe that’s helped me love myself a bit more,” he told Esquire UK in February 2023.
Speaking to PEOPLE about his favorite part of parenthood, the Hijack star revealed that he loves “the magic of watching their personalities form uniquely to them,” calling it “human magic.”
When it comes to his perfect day, it’s all about his kids: Ideally, it’s spent “hanging out with my kids doing something completely expected and just having some fun,” he said. “And then we’ll go home, grab something to eat, we’ll watch a film, my son will fall asleep, my daughter and I stay up and watch another film.”
Here’s everything to know about Idris Elba’s two kids, Isan and Winston.
Isan Elba, 21
Isan was born to Elba and Nørgaard on Jan. 5, 2002.
Elba excelled in the role of a girl dad while Isan was growing up. “Boys and girls are different but you aren’t as a parent,” he told Esquire UK about instilling the same values and expectations in both of his kids. “Dad advice is dad advice. I’m not going to give my daughter different advice from my son because she’s a girl.”
Isan, who is now a mental health advocate, has been open about her desire to follow in her dad’s famous footsteps and make a name for herself in Hollywood. She began carving her path in that direction when she was named the Golden Globe Ambassador in 2019, an honor that is awarded to the daughter or son of a famous actor each year.
“I’ve always been a lover of TV and movies and I dream to be in the industry one day,” Isan said while thanking her parents. “I’m really honored to have this position and be able to talk about things that, issues that I care about such as mental health, expression among African Americans, and my peers in particular. There’s a perceived stigma and I’ve seen my friends struggle with it.”
Her “proud dad” gushed about the honor as well, saying, “It has such a positive impact on her life and our lives and we can see the confidence and aspiration in Isan grow.”
The night of the 76th Golden Globes, the actor dished out some red-carpet-worthy tips to his daughter: “I told her to keep her back straight; elegance is presence,” he said on E!’s Live from the Red Carpet. “Smile and nod politely, even if you can’t understand what anyone’s saying."
Elba added, "If you feel like you’re going to pass out, don’t ... I’m just, like, really proud. I can’t help but be a dad.”
But Isan is no stranger to red carpets or star-studded movie premieres; she’s often joined her dad and his wife, Sabrina, at premieres, including Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Beast. She even skipped her high school prom to cheer her dad on when he played a DJ set at Coachella in 2019.
While she’s always shown up to support her dad, the pair have experienced typical father-daughter tensions as well — and some less typical ones, like when Isan auditioned to play his daughter in the movie Beast, and didn’t get the part.
Elba opened up about navigating that experience together on iHeartRadio's The Breakfast Club morning show, saying that she was “great” but that “it came down to chemistry in the end,” and that it “wasn't right for the film, weirdly enough."
Ultimately, Isan didn’t speak to her dad “for about three weeks,” he admitted. But eventually, they talked it out. “She was very gracious ... I'm really proud of her to go through that, not get the role, but still come to the premiere," Elba added.
Another choice that took Isan a moment to get behind? Her father's crowning as PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2018. Isan, who had been excited to see who would take home the title that year, was initially less than thrilled with the news. “I wake up in the morning and it’s my dad. I was like, ‘This is not what I was expecting. This is not very fun,’ ” she said at a press event.
As for what she's currently up to, Isan is studying film and television production at New York University and she's set to graduate with her bachelor's in 2024. Speaking with Tatler, she opened up about her ultimate goal.
"I want to be a producer. I grew up on film sets and I’ve been around that my entire life so it was kind of a no-brainer," she shared.
Winston Elba, 9
Winston Elba was born to Elba and Garth on April 17, 2014.
The Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom alum announced the arrival of his newborn with a sweet black-and-white photo of his little one’s tiny fingers wrapped around his own.
“My son, Winston Elba, was born yesterday. Truly amazing,” Elba wrote on Twitter (now known as X).
Winston’s moniker has special significance for the actor, who named him after his late father, who died from lung cancer just before his son's arrival.
“I named him Winston after my dad and I am so close to him,” he told YOU magazine, opening up in a 2023 cover story about his bond with his son. “I'd love him to be able to say the same things about his old man that I say about my dad. I'm desperate for him to be the man he wants to be – strong and considerate.”
As a father, Elba is “super doting,” he told PEOPLE. “Big hugs, kisses, lots of love-yous and all of that.”
While he jokes that it can be a lot for his older daughter, Winston appreciates it. “My son, he gets it. But he’s still at that age where he loves a cuddle.”
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