Sabrina Elba talks about acting, activism and (not) working with Idris – WWD

Activist-slash-actress Sabrina Elba walked the famous steps of Cannes on Friday night for the premiere of “Three Thousand Years of Longing” in a white wisp of a Tony Ward dress. It wasn’t her first red carpet – she’s married to a Mr. Idris Elba after all – but it was her first time seeing herself on the big screen.

She is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and works on sustainable aid and climate justice projects in Africa, as well as with the First Lady of Sierra Leone on issues related to violence against women. In fact, she had just gotten off a two-week plane in Kenya, where she was working on an International Fund for Agricultural Development project.

Technically, “Three Thousand Years” isn’t his first acting gig, but it’s been a few years since his student film days. It was the prospect of seeing Idris shooting away in Australia for six months that made her dust off her acting shoes. “I wanted to get it on my own merits, so I took a chance. It’s a small role but I’m so proud of it. How do you explain working with such a creative? He’s one of the best directors in the world, and just being on set, seeing this masterclass of this creative piece come together, it was amazing.

The two don’t actually work together on the film. “I don’t have any scenes with Idris, pretty funny, which was actually probably for the best,” she said. She appears onscreen with Tilda Swinton. “I come face to face with Tilda and I mean, she’s just a monolith in the industry so it was really intimidating. But she was such a guide, such a friend and so helpful and kind, ‘You understood.’ »

Filming with WWD at the Majestic Hotel overlooking the red carpet, Elba felt the gravity of those famous 24 steps. “It’s grand,” she said. “There’s a buzz, I can’t even explain it. I have never felt this before. It looks like a big thing.

Styling duo Zadrian Smith and Sarah Edmiston worked with Tony Ward to create a bespoke dress to calm nervousness and help her feel confident on the red carpet. They took a reference photo of Gina Lollobrigida in the 1959 epic “Solomon and Sheba” to Ward, only to find he was using the exact same photo as inspiration for his 2022 capsule collection.

“It was like a match made in heaven, I almost didn’t believe them,” Elba said of the coincidence.

“Not only is Cannes one of our first big moments with Sabrina as a client, but it’s also really important because it’s her acting debut. We wanted to make sure the fashion felt authentic to her and how she wanted to introduce herself to this new audience and in this new phase of her life,” Smith added. “They transformed the beautiful, ethereal look with a subtle homage to that reference.”

Elba planned her Cannes wardrobe with pieces from the Fendi + Versace collaboration and LaQuan Smith, with help from Smith and Edmiston as well. She wanted every night’s look to have a different vibe, and she loves that body-hugging ’90s style. Elba praises these designers for being inclusive, even though she struggles to feel self-conscious about her body.

“I think it’s something every girl deals with because there’s so much pressure to look a certain way. I’ve always been naturally plump and I’m very proud of that. But sometimes he can be a little intimidating. to try a sample size, when you know it’s only going to go up to your knees because you can’t get it past your African thighs,” she joked. “And so I like to challenge designers to say, ‘look, if you want to dress me, pull out something that’s my size, because I’m not sample size.’ And you know, I like brands that always stand tall.

While the Elbas are a couple, the two are careful not to pair up on the red carpet and work completely independently. “We are the worst in coordination. But I think it works because he does it and I do it and I like the fact that we’re not trying to force anything. I love that sometimes we seem to go to completely different events.

As the pair continue to do their podcast, “Coupledom,” and Elba has other acting projects underway, her philanthropy and activism will always be her priority, she said.

“I would never agree to anything that I think would interrupt this work, but I want to see how that balance develops,” she said, acknowledging the contradiction of glamorous and militant lifestyles. “It’s a bit of a personal conflict sometimes to help real people, but then to do something so glamorous. So it’s also a balancing act and some days are harder than others.

She’s using her platform for good, launching her neutral wellness line S’Able Labs and Idris’ line, which is fully traceable and sustainably sourced from rural farmers. It will hit shelves on July 12.

About Carl Schroeder

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