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The Oscars: Riz Ahmed Becomes First Muslim Nominated for Best Lead Actor

Riz Ahmed has become the first Muslim to be nominated for Best Lead Actor.

British actor and musician Riz Ahmed has been nominated for the Academy Award’s Best Lead Actor, becoming the first Muslim ever to be nominated for this category. He was nominated for his role in the movie Sound of Metal, where he plays a rock drummer who loses his hearing.

Ahmed, who previously won an Emmy after winning the Lead Actor role for The Night Of in 2017, was also featured on the front cover of the annual Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people in the same year he won his Emmy.

This 2021 nomination comes at a time when diversity and inclusion are finally being appreciated and supported in the film and arts – and when people are also finally speaking out about the Oscars being dominated by white actors and actresses (like the viral #OscarsSoWhite hashtag which started five years ago).

Speaking about the nomination, Riz Ahmed stated:

When you hear your own name, it’s a weird feeling, I just quietly gave thanks and felt some gratitude.”

This year’s Oscar nominations saw 9 of the 20 nominees being people of color, which included a posthumous Best Actor nomination for the late Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Steven Yeun (in Minari), Viola Davis (in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Andra Day (in The United States vs Billie Holiday), Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield (in Judas and the Black Messiah), Leslie Odom Jr (in One Night in Miami), and Yuh-Jung Youn (in Minari) were also all nominated for both Lead Actor and Supporting Actor roles.

Before Riz Ahmed became the first Muslim nominated for Lead Actor, Mahershala Ali was the first to be nominated for his role as Supporting Actor in the film Moonlight, winning the same prize in 2019 for Green Book.

The Oscars will be officially handed out on April 25th in a ceremony that will take place at both the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and the Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

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