Idris Elba: The motorsports industry needs to diversify to secure its future

Idris Elba has said that the motorsports industry needs to follow in the footsteps of the film world by 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 has launched a new initiative called Speed ​​Academy with Total Karting Zero, which aims to discover and nurture young motorsports talent from under-represented communities.

Elba, who is a self-confessed “car nut” and has previously participated in the rally car series, explained that there is a “narrow entry point” into motorsports due to the expense and opportunity, but hopes that the plan will make this point. May uncover that there is a “pocket of talents”. everywhere “.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 31: Idris Elba (c) posing with young racers at the launch of Idris Elba’s Speed ​​Academy powered by Total Karting Zero at the 2022 SABIC London E-Prix Race at ExCel on July 31, 2022 in London was held. , England. (Photo by David M. Bennett/Dave Bennett/Getty Images for Idris Elba x Total Karting Zero)

Elba told the PA news agency: “I think it’s important to improve, the future is diverse no doubt. It’s a statistical fact that the world is becoming more and more diverse.

“It’s just the nature of growth and so if motorsports want to represent that development in any way, they need to plant those seeds now.

“It is the same in my filmmaking industry. For a long time television didn’t look like the world it represented, it was too skewed to a certain type.

“And there had to be an escape of thought about how we transfer that and it stemmed from the actors and the casting to the storyteller and the productions.

“And now you watch television, you look at the casting, it’s a broad spectrum of our human race.”

He emphasized how it has improved the reach of the film and television industry, adding: “So for the motor industry to secure its future in a changing world it needs to follow suit a little bit.”

The Luther actor said that he wants his new plan to help improve representation in motorsports because he feels that “just because you come from a certain background doesn’t mean you have to enter certain industries.” should not be given the opportunity”.

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To launch the initiative, Elba gave an open call to non-represented communities to find future racing talent ages six to 16, giving them the chance to win a long-term Speed ​​Academy scholarship.

Hundreds of applicants responded and were narrowed down to 29 youngsters who went head-to-head at the 2022 SABIC E-Prix race held at ExCel in London over the weekend.

Nine young people were selected to receive development scholarships and ongoing training, with most of the recipients being a young female racer and an aspiring engineer.

Elba said he thinks providing opportunities like this is a “gamechanger”: “One of those kids could drive a Formula E car in 10 years, five years, who knows, but at least the opportunity is there in that area.” was given to the one who was not so before.”

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LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 31: A general view of the atmosphere at the launch of Idris Elba’s Speed ​​Academy, powered by Total Karting Zero, held at the 2022 SABIC London E-Prix race at ExCel on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Bennett/Dave Bennett/Getty Images for Idris Elba x Total Karting Zero)

The actor also reflected on the “mass impact” of seeing representation in your industry, as he recalled how his school visit from The Full Monty actor Paul Barber in Newham “changed his life”.

“He was solid 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 a room and said, ‘Listen, you can’t take drama seriously anymore, but I made a good living out of it and I’m enjoying it and it’s a great career.

“It changed my life because I was like ‘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 find a way to replicate the program in different countries.