British-Pakistani star Riz Ahmed made history on Monday as the first Muslim actor to be nominated for Actor in a Leading Role category of the 93rd Academy Awards, or The Oscars.
“If there’s a way in which people can find themselves in this moment, and can feel inspired and connected on a deeper level, I’m all for it,” Ahmed told Deadline about his history-making Oscar nomination.
“Whether they see me as the first British Pakistani, or the first guy from Wembley, you know, there’s so many ways to view it. But as long as it feels like an opportunity for more people than ever before to really connect and feel included in this moment, that’s a blessing.”
Ahmed plays a hard rock drummer who loses his hearing in the 2019 American drama film Sound of Metal, directed and co-written by Darius Marder.
The film has a nomination in six different categories, including Best Supporting Actor, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
Speaking about being the first Muslim nominated for the award, he told Los Angeles Time, “I just feel like however people can find themselves in this moment, however they can find a connection to this moment, is beautiful to me.”
“Some people may connect to the fact that it’s the first Muslim, some people might say British-Pakistani, some people might say first person from Wembley in London. What matters to me is that these moments of celebration, these moments of collective recognition, are actually moments where as many people as possible can recognize themselves in it.
“And so that’s all that really matters to me. And I’m really pleased if this is an opportunity for more people than ever before to connect to a moment like this.”
The Muslim star celebrated the nomination on Twitter.
Wow! I’m honoured to be nominated by my fellow actors alongside such inspiring performances, and am grateful to the Academy for their support and encouragement. I’m equally thrilled for our visionary writer-director Darius Marder and the brilliant Paul Raci… pic.twitter.com/Z6ScOq08tf
— Riz Ahmed (@rizwanahmed) March 15, 2021
Who Is Riz Ahmed
Riz Ahmed became the first Muslim actor, as well as the first South-Asian actor, to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series in September 2017.
The award was given for his role as Nasir Khan in “The Night Of.”
The 36-year-old actor has previously talked about stereotyping in Hollywood casting.
In June 2017, he told the Hollywood Reporter that he’d “rather be broke” than be typecast as “Terrorist No. 3.”
Speaking to Parliament in March, he warned that the lack of diversity on television could lead to extremism, particularly recruitment into ISIS.
Last year, Aziz Ansari became the first South-Asian person nominated for an acting Emmy but lost to Jeffrey Tambor.