Riz Ahmed first Muslim nominated for an Oscar for finest actor

LOS ANGELES (RNS) – Riz Ahmed became the first Muslim to be nominated for Best Actor in a leading role to write the Academy Awards. Ahmed’s nomination comes for his appearance on “Sound of Metal” as a drummer in a heavy metal duo dealing with increased hearing loss.

The film received five other nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards, including “Best Picture” and “Best Supporting Actor” for Paul Raci.

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The 38-year-old actor is no stranger to the awards ceremony red carpet. At the Prime Time Emmy Awards 2017, he was recognized for his performance in the acclaimed HBO series “The Night Of” as an outstanding leading actor in a limited series or film. Over the past five years, Ahmed has received a number of nominations for Emmys, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the British Independent Film Awards.

Ahmed has also been nominated for two previous Golden Globe Awards, including this year for his appearance on Sound of Metal. Ahmed was one of three Muslims nominated for dramatic appearances at the Golden Globes this year. The Golden Globe Award for Best Actor Ahmed was nominated was given posthumously to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”.

Riz Ahmed in a scene from “Sound of Metal”. Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

Prior to Ahmed’s nomination, a handful of Muslims had won the Best Supporting Actor nominations. Mahershala Ali won two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor, first in 2017 for “Moonlight” and again in 2019 for “Green Book”. The first Muslim to be nominated for an Oscar for his theatrical performance was Omar Sharif in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

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Away from the bright lights of Hollywood, the Pakistani-British actor and native of London is committed to raising funds and raising awareness for a range of causes, including Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim community and Syrian refugees. Ahmed’s acclaimed music includes the song “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” which won an MTV Video Music Award in 2016.

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