Last night’s Emmy’s highlighted a wide range of talented women and people of color, those who aren’t often highly recognized for their work and artistic contributions. Representation has been a buzz word for the past couple of years as unique and specific stories have made their mark in various mediums to much success and fanfare.
Riz Ahmed was one of the actors who was recognized for his portrayal of a young Muslim man who was falsely accused of a heinous crime in the mini-series, The Night Of.
His win is impressive and important for a whole host of reasons. One of which is that he’s the first South-Asian, Muslim actor who has ever been awarded such an honor in the television academy’s almost 70-year history.
This is, of course, no surprise when the industry has been predominately white for decades. That is slowly changing, which is a welcome sight to so many. On the other hand, it must be considered what this parts that are being won for depict.
In the case of Ahmed, he played an innocent brown kid who was accused of a crime he didn’t commit. The miniseries follows his transformation as his life shifts in prison and his sweet eagerness is replaced by something harder and more dangerous, as a means of survival.
When taking the stage to accept his award, Ahmed took a moment to highlight the unfairness that many people of color face in everyday life and at the hands of the justice system.
“I want to say it is always strange reaping the rewards of a story that’s based on real-world suffering, but if this show has shown a light on some of the prejudice in our societies, Islamophobia, some of the injustice in our justice system, then maybe that is something.”
Aside from his acting career, Ahmed is a dedicated activist and rapper. He supports many different causes and feels deeply about social justice. The fact that we are still talking about first’s in 2017 is honestly embarrassing.
Ahmed’s career is just getting started and with the type of accolade an Emmy is, he’ll have a bit more options to choose from.