Riz Ahmed has become the first Muslim nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Academy Awards for Sound of Metal, not long after Mahershala Ali made his own history with two Best Supporting Actor wins in 2017 and 2019.
Talking to Deadline Hollywood, the UK-born actor says he’s humbled by his nomination. “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 says. “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.”
The New York Times asked Ahmed about his Best Actor nomination alongside Steven Yeun (“Minari”), a notable first for two men of Asian heritage to be nominated in the same year. “I just think the more and more people that can find themselves celebrated and included in these moments, the better,” says Ahmed. “That’s what storytelling is about. It’s about trying to stretch our idea of who we are. And when we celebrate a wider range of stories, and a wider range of storytellers, it can help more and more people to find themselves in our culture. And that’s really a positive thing.”
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