Idris Elba's Daughter Isan, 17, Opens Up About Helping Her Mother Deal with Mental Illness
Idris Elba's daughter Isan is using her platform as the 2019 Golden Globes Ambassador to spread awareness about mental health
At the Golden Globe Ambassador luncheon held in Beverly Hills on Thursday, the 17 year old revealed that speaking out about mental health is personally important to her because she has watched her mother, Hanne “Kim” Norgaard, battle mental illness.
“It was only about two years ago that my mom opened up to me,” Isan told PEOPLE exclusively at the event. “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.”
Among the conditions her mother deals with, Isan listed bipolar depression, depression and chronic anxiety.
“It was like, ‘Woah,'” she said of learning about what her mother was going through for the first time. “It was definitely a learning curve. I’m so much closer to my mom now because I know what she’s going through.”
During a panel held at the luncheon, Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) president Meher Tatna announced that they would be donating $50,000 to the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in Isan’s name to help the organization as it works towards changing the perception of mental illness in the African American community.
From middle school to the beginning of sophomore year of high school, Isan said she had to work through self-esteem issues of her own because she was bullied at school.
“I’ve always been a quirky kid,” she said. “I’ve had to work through that. Part of the reason I was bullied was because of my personality. Other people gravitated towards my personality — but at my school, the kids had never met someone so sporadic like me. After that, I just sort of said, ‘Whatever, I’m not going to listen to what you say.'”
She added: “Being myself is what got me here. People have been telling me how much of an inspiration it is that I’m talking about this.”
Though Isan said she’s “definitely humble,” she would say to those bullies about her role at the Golden Globes: “If I wasn’t me, they wouldn’t pick me.”
Looking ahead to the show on Sunday, Isan said she’s excited to see how everything is going to work out. While she wants to keep her outfit details for the big day under wraps, she said to expect “dark princess vibes.”
Recently, it was announced her dad will be making his Coachella debut in April, to which she quipped, “I know, shocker!”
“Because of school, he’s a little bit strict — hopefully he’s in less dad-mode when I ask [to go] and he’ll say, ‘Yes, you can go to Coachella,'” she said. “Because that’s amazing. I love the lineup. It’s more contemporary. I love all music genres. I’m so ready for Tame Impala!”
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Jordyn Woods, who also attended the luncheon and spoke on the panel with Isan, opened about how working out helped her work through the grief she felt after her late father, John, died in January 2017 just two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
“I also struggled with a lot of different mental health issues because my dad passed away and I went through all these things,” Woods said during the panel. “My therapy and finding myself was through working out. I was dedicated to the gym. That was my way of disconnecting and really putting my time into something positive. I just turned 21, and I’m still figuring it out but I feel like I’m in a really good place now.”
Woods — who launched her own activewear brand SECNDNTURE in August — told PEOPLE that her tip for staying grounded in the public eye is trying “not to get too caught up in the lifestyle,” and that it helps having her BFF Kylie Jenner by her side.
“We’re truly ourselves with each other so we can just express how we feel, and the other one is always there to listen and understand,” she told PEOPLE, adding that she’s hoping to instill her values in Jenner’s 10-month-old daughter Stormi as well as the other kids in her life. “A lot of my friends have children and with my future kids, I feel like it’s important to really instill those concepts in their life early — learning to value things and that you have to work for things.”
As for her New Year’s resolution, Woods said, “There’s no ‘new year, new me’ type of thing. Every day, I wake up and try to become a better person and try to do something that will help me.”
The 76th annual Golden Globe Awards air Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. ET on NBC.