Many 17-year-olds spend their birthday weekend partying it up with friends. Isan Elba, on the other hand, will be taking the stage to hand out trophies at the 2019 Golden Globes and using her platform to spark a conversation about mental health issues in the Black community.
The teen daughter of actor Idris Elba was chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) as this year’s Golden Globes Ambassador. The title was formerly known as Miss/Mr. Golden Globe until 2017, when it was changed to reflect a more inclusive, gender-neutral role. The honoree must be the daughter or son of a well-known actor and be committed to philanthropy.
In support of her mother Hanne “Kim” Norgaard’s mental health battle, Elba chose to partner with the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation and $50,000 will be donated in her name by the HFPA. Actor Taraji P. Henson founded the organization in honor of her late father, who also suffered from mental illness.
“It was only about two years ago that my mom opened up to me,” Elba told People at the Golden Globe Ambassador luncheon. “I’m not going to lie, it’s a struggle every day. It’s a learning lesson for me, but it’s hard. Mental health is something that’s hard to deal with. We just sat down and talked about it, and I think that was better for her, talking about it and talking about it with someone who means the most in her life, and just getting that out.”
Norgaard battles with bipolar depression, depression, and chronic anxiety, according to Elba, who said learning about her mother’s illnesses brought them “so much closer.” Being an ambassador will give Elba a chance to shed major light on this issue during one of Hollywood’s biggest nights, though, this is only the beginning according to her.
“After this, I will still continue to advocate for mental health,” she told Variety, “in the African-American community and among teenagers, because I’m both, and it’s such taboo in both communities.”