Riz Ahmed has spoken of his pride in connecting with a wider audience after becoming the first Muslim to be nominated for the Best Actor Oscar.
The actor, 38, has been awarded for his role as drummer Ruben Stone in Sound of Metal – a musician who is slowly losing his hearing after playing in a rock band.
Riz said he hopes both the Muslim community and the deaf community will appreciate his appearance at the ceremony later this month.
Role Model: Riz Ahmed has spoken about his pride in connecting with a wider audience after becoming the first Muslim to be nominated for the Best Actor Oscar
Riz told me BBC: ‘What is important to me is that as many people as possible can find themselves at the moment.
‘So some people really agree with the idea that I was the first Muslim to be nominated for lead actor, that’s great and I support that.
‘If some people are overjoyed to see that it is a film that focuses on the deaf presentation, something that is really lacking in cinema and that it connects more with that, then that is wonderful.’
The Four Lions star added, “If some people are convinced it’s someone from Wembley … that’s cool.”
Character: The actor, 38, has been awarded for his role as drummer Ruben Stone in Sound of Metal – who is slowly losing his hearing after playing in a rock band
Riz believes his recognition for making the Academy history is down to the advancement of society, as this year’s Oscars feature the most diverse group of nominees to date.
He added: ‘But I think it’s really important to look at the whole field of nominees and see that there are so many firsts.
Steven Yeun is the first Asian-American actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins is the oldest, Chadwick Boseman’s posthumous nomination – the first time for a black actor in that position.
Tough: Riz won rave reviews for his portrayal of Ruben Stone, a rock and roll drummer and recovering alcoholic whose life goes into free fall when he loses his hearing
“So I just enjoy being part of a moment when we all seem to be moving forward together as a culture.”
Riz – who has received critical acclaim as a rapper – also revealed that he will be wearing earplugs to gigs in the future, after seeing the effect hearing loss had on his character.
He said, ‘It definitely made me realize I need to bring earplugs to locations.
It’s something I started doing years ago when I realized that friends of mine, DJs, were unfortunately starting to lose some of their hearing. It’s very, very common in music. ‘
Proud: Riz said he hopes both the Muslim and Deaf communities will appreciate his appearance at the ceremony later this month
Riz received rave reviews for his portrayal of Ruben Stone, a rock and roll drummer and recovering alcoholic whose life goes into free fall when he loses his hearing.
American actor Mahershala Ali was the first Muslim to win an Oscar when he was named Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight in 2017, winning the same award in 2019 for Green Book.
Hearing the news, Riz tweeted earlier this month, “ Wow! I am honored to be nominated by my fellow players alongside such inspiring performances and I am grateful to the Academy for their support and encouragement. ‘
The actor has been praised for his ‘passionate performance’ on Sound Of Metal, which he prepared for by learning drumming and American Sign Language and attending Alcoholics Anonymous and Addict Anonymous meetings.
He was previously the first Muslim to win a lead actor Emmy in 2017 for his performance in The Night Of.
It was announced last week that the 93rd Academy Awards would not only take place between two Los Angeles locations, but an additional ‘UK hub’, despite other award shows choosing to go the ‘virtual’ route amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
And it seems like producers of the awards show have another trick up their sleeve.
The Oscars – which will take place on Sunday, April 25 – will be produced by 2001 Best Director winner Steven Soderbergh, as well as longtime collaborator Stacey Sher and pandemic awards expert Jesse Collins.
The trio spoke recently Vanity Fair on the constantly evolving and top-secret plans for Hollywood’s biggest night, including creating a European outpost – announced last week – following a response after it was said that Zoom would not be an option for nominees.
Interesting: the Oscars – which air Sunday, April 25 – will take place between two locations in Los Angeles, ‘British hub’, and a ‘secret’ location