British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed has become the first Muslim to win an Oscar for the live-action film The Long Goodbye, which he co-wrote under direction of Aneil Karia. The actor made waves with his debut Oscars statuette for generations of Muslims in film to come as the first within the live-action category.
The short film tells the story of an immigrant South Asian family in Britain in preparation for a wedding, which is disturbed by a right-wing militia knocking on their door before chaos erupts.
In his acceptance speech, Ahmed stressed the importance of camaraderie during times of division among people while dedicating his award to those feeling like outcasts. “We believe that the role of story is to remind us there is no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ There’s just ‘us’,” he said. “This is for everyone who feels like they don’t belong. Anyone who feels like they’re stuck in no man’s land. You’re not alone. We’ll meet you there. That’s where the future is.”
The history-making news follows his already distinguishing Oscars nomination as the first Muslim in the best actor category for his role in The Sound of Metal in which he played a drummer who loses his hearing. Before Ahmed, the first Muslim to win an Oscar as supporting actor was Mahershala Ali in 2017 for Moonlight, who won the coveted award again in the same category for Green Book in 2019.
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