This Is How First Muslim Oscar Nominee Riz Ahmed Faces Racial Discrimination

Aizbah KhanWeb Editor

16th Mar, 2021. 08:36 pm
This Is How First Muslim Oscar Nominee Riz Ahmed Faces Racial Discrimination

Rizwan Ahmed, a British actor of Pakistani origin who is popularly known as ‘Riz Ahmed’ has become the first Muslim actor to be nominated for lead actor Oscar for his film “Sound of Metal.”

While his nomination for Best Actor highlights the lack of Muslim actors in Hollywood films, the last few years have seen a significant increase in the representation of people of other races and communities at the awards since the Oscars were criticized.

Earlier, Mahershala Ali, a black actor from the Ahmadiyya community, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2016 and 2018 for his films Moonlight and Green Book.

In a statement issued after his nomination, Riz Ahmed said, “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 as well as our editor Mikkel, sound designer Nicolas, and co-writer Abe Marder. These nominations represents the time, generosity and talents of so many — all of our incredible cast, crew, producers and in particular I’d like to thank my mentors in the drumming, addiction recovery, and D/deaf communities.”

He added, “Sound of Metal is about how a health crisis can cut you off from your life and loved ones, and force you to grow in unexpected ways. In a challenging year for so many, I hope this story can inspire us to forge new and deeper connections with ourselves and others.”


Riz Ahmed’s parents are from Pakistan but he was born in London, England. Riz’s father hails from Karachi, from where he moved to the UK in the 1970s.

Riz Ahmed talks about his identity in the Guardian newspaper and the stereotypes that come with it. He also mentions his childhood when he was harassed by a white man who thought he was black and then as a ‘Paki boy’ he has faced racial discrimination in different ways.

Five years ago, he was writing in the English newspaper The Guardian about the treatment he received at airports and his changing identity.

He said he was often told about his films and asked to take selfies while searching for any kind of explosives on his body.

He also defined the career stages of any minority actor in hollywood: “Stage one is the two-dimensional stereotype – the minicab driver/terrorist/cornershop owner.”

Stage two challenges the stereotype.

While definig stage three Riz said, “is the promised land, where you play a character whose story is not intrinsically linked to their race. There I am not a terror suspect, nor a victim of forced marriage. There, my name might even be Dave.”

However, when Riz was nominated for Best Actor at next month’s Oscars, he became the first Muslim in Oscar history to be nominated for the award.

Apart from being an actor, Riz Ahmed is also a musician and as a rapper his album has hit the market in the year 2020. In January 2021, he announced that he was married to US-based writer Fatima Farheen Mirza.

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