Idris Elba said he’s not sure what it’s like to be a sex symbol because Hollywood rarely describes Black men as "sexy."
When Idris (with his fine, British self) sat down with The Life Files, he revealed that a big part of keeping himself grounded is to not pay attention to the hype. It’s advice he got from a pretty credible source.
"Denzel [Washington] taught me one day…he said, ‘You’re doing good work. Listen. Never read your own press,’" Idris said. "It definitely kept my perspective real. It doesn’t matter how big people say you are; you’re not as big as you are."
Idris is used to women going nuts for him, and he even recounted an experience where a club full of ladies (of all different ages) had their eyes on him. But whether you’re ogling Idris on the big screen, like in Takers, or if you’re luck enough to do it in person, Idris doesn’t understand the big deal. In his mind, he’s not a sex symbol.
"I always get asked this question and I don’t really have a real satisfactory answer. I don’t know what it feels like to be a sex symbol," he explained. "When I wake up in the morning I see the same face."
But the actor said that part of his attitude is shaped by the fact that Hollywood often doesn’t use a key descriptor for the brothers. "I will say this—and I’ve said this in the press before—Black men, we’re never called sexy," Idris said. "We’re called athletic, intense, we’re described as being the strong type, the silent type, but we’re never really described as sexy."
He acknowledges that this isn’t the hard-and-fast rule, but it applies more often than not. "There’s a real generalization to what I’m saying. In general, the word sexy doesn’t apply to Black men," Idris said. "In a script, they won’t say a sexy Black man they’ll say ‘a muscular Black man’, ‘an intense Black guy’—’good looking’—but they won’t say sexy."
Whether Hollywood recognizes his appeal, his fans definitely stamp him with the sexy seal. How does he take the designation? Find out when you watch the video below.