Idris Elba said the motorsports industry must follow in the footsteps of the film world, working to better represent diversity in society if it is to “secure its future in an ever-changing world.”
The 49-year-old Hollywood star launched a new initiative with Total Karting Zero called the Speed Academy, which aims to identify and develop young motorsport talent from underrepresented communities.
Elba, who has admitted to being a “car geek” and has previously competed in the rally car series, explained that there is a “narrow entry point” to motorsport due to costs and opportunities, but hopes the scheme can highlight that there is ” talent pockets. everywhere”.
Elba told the PA news agency, “I think it’s important to improve, the future is diverse, there’s no doubt about that. It is a statistical fact that the world is becoming more and more diverse.
“It’s just the nature of evolution and so if motorsport wants to represent that evolution in any way, they need to sow those seeds now.
“It’s the same in my film industry. For a long time television was not like the world it represents, it was very skewed towards a certain type.
“And there had to be an outcome of thinking about how we would change that, and it came from the actors and casting to the storyteller and production.
“And you look at television now, you look at casting, it’s the broader spectrum of our human race.”
He highlighted how this expanded the reach of the film and television industry, adding, “So for the automotive industry to secure its future in an ever-changing world, it needs to follow suit a bit.”
The Luther actor said he wants his new scheme to help improve motorsports representation as he believes “just because you come from a certain background doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the opportunity to enter certain industries.”
To launch this initiative, Elba launched an open call to find future racing talent between the ages of six and 16 from unrepresented communities, offering them the chance to race to win long-term Speed Academy scholarships.
Hundreds of applicants responded and they were narrowed down to 29 youngsters who went head to head at the 2022 SABIC E-Prix race held at ExCeL London over the weekend.
Nine young people were selected to receive development and continuing education scholarships, with the majority of the recipients being young racers and one aspiring engineer.
Elba said he believes providing such opportunities is “a game changer”. this was not the case before.
The actor also mused on the “huge impact” that can have an impact in your industry when he recalled how a visit to his Newham school by The Fat Monty actor Paul Barber “changed his life.”
“He was real proof that you can be from a community like ours where the majority are black and brown people and you can end up like Paul.
“And he sat in the room and said, ‘Look, you may not take drama seriously right now, but I made good money from it and I love it and it’s a great career.’
“It changed my life because I thought, ‘Wow, this is really possible. Look at this guy, he’s just like me.”
Elba said he plans to expand the initiative to more communities and then wants to find a way to replicate the program in other countries.