Riz Ahmed recently made history after becoming the first-ever Muslim to bag an Oscars’ nomination for the upcoming Academy Awards. The star has been nominated in the Best Actor category for his powerhouse performance in Amazon’s Sound of Metal, based on the life of a drummer. The drama has been nominated for six awards this year including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Sound. However, this year’s nominations witnessed a bevy of firsts.
Steven Yeun, who has also secured a nomination for Best Actor, is also the first Asian-American to have accomplished the feat. Talking to Deadline, Riz said, “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.” He added, “Whether they see me as the first British-Pakistani, or the first guy from Wembley, you know, there are 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.”
Riz underwent rigorous training for his role as the drummer who loses his hearing in the film. He not only learnt how to play the drums but also the American sign language. He continued, “We should stretch culture so that it’s big enough and wide enough and expansive enough so that there’s space for all of us to find ourselves in it, to feel that we belong and that we’re included, and that we matter. These changes aren’t just something that’s good politically or socially. It’s something which allows stories and storytelling to get back to its original intention, which is to embrace all of us.” Both Riz and Yeun’s nominations can be seen as a stepping stone towards the celebration of diversity and inclusivity in the much-coveted Academy Awards.