Who is Riz Ahmed? All you need to know about first Muslim to be nominated in Oscar's lead actor category

After a year that saw the biggest shutdown that forced most movie theatres to close the nominations of the 93rd annual Academy Awards were announced on Monday morning by Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas.

With 'Mank,' which is a black-and-white drama from Netflix about the making of 'Citizen Kane,' leading the pack with 10 nominations, these six films received six nominations: 'The Father,' 'Judas and the Black Messiah,' 'Minari,' 'Nomadland,' 'Sound of Metal' and 'The Trial of the Chicago 7.'

With that being said, ‘Sound of Metal’ also came in with the nomination for Riz Ahmed as Best Actor in a Leading Role.

He is up against late actor Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom’, Steven Yeun in ‘Minari’, Anthony Hopkins in ‘The Father’ and Gary Oldman for ‘Mank’.

For those unversed, Riz is the first Muslim actor to be nominated in the lead actor category.

Who is Riz Ahmed?

Born as Rizwan Ahmed he is also known as Riz MC. He was born in London to a British Pakistani family. Interestingly he is a descendant of Sir Shah Muhammad Sulaiman, the first Muslim to become the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court during the British Era.

In January 2021, Riz revealed that he had married American novelist Fatima Farheen Mirza.

He is an established actor musician, and activist. Ahmed has been raising awareness and funds for Rohingya and Syrian refugee children, and was also featured on Time magazine's 100 list of the world's most influential people in 2017.

As Riz MC, Ahmed emerged in the London music scene as a rap battle champion, going on to write and perform both as a solo artist and with his band, Swet Shop Boys. He earned commercial success with his song "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)".

His other screen works include 'Britz' (2007), 'Dead Set' (2008), 'Venom' (2018) and 'Nightcrawler' (2014) among others.

In 2017 he bagged an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie in the HBO miniseries 'The Night Of', making him the first Asian male to win an acting Emmy, and the first Muslim and first Asian to win a lead acting Emmy.

In 2019, Riz headlined for saying no to the fourth annual GoalKeepers Award ceremony established by the Gates Foundation where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to receive the ‘Global Goalkeeper Award' in the United States.

According to reports the actor pulled out of the event because of the restrictions in Kashmir.

He has also been candid about how Muslims are negatively stereotyped.

In 2020, Ahmed revealed that he has lost two family members to COVID-19.

"I have lost two family members to Covid. I just want to believe their deaths and all the others aren't for nothing. We gotta step up to re-imagine a better future," said Ahmed.

"I'm seeing reports of India, where the government are calling it 'corona-jihad' and they're trying to blame it on the spread of Muslims and they are segregating hospitals between Muslims and non-Muslims," he added.

Sound Of Metal

‘Sound Of Metal’ narrates the story of a drummer and former heroin addict Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed) coping up with his deteriorating hearing, which emerges as a threat to his music career.

The film shows his attempts to cope with the loss, time spent getting to know the realities of the community and his attempt to reclaim his life.

It took over a decade for filmmaker Darius Marder to make his feature directorial debut, through the highly acclaimed film. Marder feels it took so long because it is extremely difficult to make things in the United States.

Elaborating his point, the director shared: "Even after I wrote ‘The Place Beyond the Pines', nobody would finance this movie. So it's hard, you have to really believe in what you are doing. So I'm just thrilled, after all this, for it to be seen, I'm also really happy for more than anything for these actors because they put their faith in me."

Also, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff and Mathieu Almar, Sound Of Metal is available on Amazon Prime Video in India.

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