What Idris Elba Tells His Daughter About Black Girl Magic
John Sciulli/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company

This year, Idris Elba has taken home one trophy after another for his outstanding acting performances, but his biggest role to date is actually fatherhood.

Elba, who voices the no-nonsense Chief Bogo in Disney’s upcoming animated kid’s movie, Zootopia, is the proud dad to daughter Isan Elba, 14, and son Winston Elba, 1.

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While it may be a little early to have a heart-to-heart with his son, Elba told us that he does his best to teach his daughter which values are most important in life. He said they have talked about all-things Black Girl Magic, and his best advice on keeping her own magic is for her to remember, more than anything, to “just believe in herself.”

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“My daughter and I speak about having the confidence to believe in your own journey and not to follow others,” added Elba.  “We speak about that a lot—confidence and belief, and not following anyone else’s shine, but rather following your own shine…It’s really important to have that self-belief and that self-heartbeat.”

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Elba wants every young man and woman to take his advice as soon as they can. “I think that, generally, I would say that to any kid,” continued the history-making SAG award winner. “People … all of us, even us as adults, try and kind of get caught up in what other people are doing, and then find ourselves measuring ourselves up against something that isn’t even for us. When you’re a child, or a kid, that’s almost impossible to understand. It’s like, ‘This girl over here has got long hair. I need to have long hair. I don’t know why I haven’t got it …’ Those are hard to navigate around, especially for a teenager. You’re coming into your own.”

For Elba, this was a personal lesson he learned along the way. “You know that old saying ‘if I knew back then what I know now’? A lot of it would be, ‘I just wish you believed in yourself even more.’