Riz Ahmed is notable as a Muslim actor and rapper who is using his talent as an entertainer to draw attention to the stereotypes Muslims face in the industry. His activism dates back to 2006 when both his music and acting career kicked off while he was still a student at Oxford University.
Most of the popularity Riz enjoys today is credited to his acting as he has gone on to make a name for himself in the film industry, thanks to his brilliant performances in films, TV shows, and on stage. The widely acclaimed actor has won a Primetime Emmy alongside several Golden Globe nominations for his works.
Riz Ahmed’s Road to Guantanamo Role Launched His Thriving Acting Career
After Riz Ahmed was done with his degree at Oxford, he decided to train in acting; this he did at Central School of Speech and Drama. He eventually got his first role in a film in 2006, playing Shafiq in The Road to Guantanamo which placed him on the path of success as an actor.
Although the years that followed saw his career slowly taking off with a few minor roles, Riz landed a notable role in the 2014 thriller, Nightcrawler. The actor was cast opposite seasoned actor Jake Gyllenhaal and for his performance, he was on the nomination list of several awards that year. His character in the film was Rick, the assistant to a journalist who goes to any lengths to get a good story. Interestingly, Riz Ahmed was one of the seventy-five people who auditioned for the role. It was also gathered that one of the ways he prepared for his role was by spending time with homeless people.
Another major role Ahmed has had is that of Bodhi Rook in the 2016 Star Wars film, Rogue One. He was also cast in the anti-hero film, Venom, as Carlton Drake. However, the most successful role Riz has had was in the miniseries, The Night Of. The seasoned actor played Nasir “Naz” Khan and won several major film awards for his performance, including a Primetime Emmy Award. This saw him become the first Muslim and Asian to win an Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. More so, he has won awards for his appearance in III Manors, Shifty, Daytimer, and the comedy series, Girls.
Ahmed acting also extends to stage appearances as he was featured in the play, Gaddafi, organized by the Asian Dub Foundation. Another stage role he has played include Lucius, a serial killer who later became a born-again Christian in the stage production, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, which had Jack William Clift and Thomas Sweatma as its directors. Riz was also cast in the stage play, Prayer Room.
The Actor Is also a Fine Music Star
Riz Ahmed does not only have a thriving career in films but in music as well. The talented young man is part of the hip-hop group, Swet Shop Boys. In addition to that, he leads a solo career as a rapper and goes by the name Riz MC.
It is also known that the success he has recorded in music was not by chance as his journey as a singer started during his teenage years. He began by making appearances as a freestyle rapper and when he was at Oxford University, he co-founded the Hit & Run musical event which is one of the biggest underground music events in Manchester. He was also a member of a band named the Confidential Collective and upon graduation, he continued with his rap battles, winning many contests.
Ahmed gained widespread recognition in 2006 for his rap track, “Post 9/11 Blues” which attracted a lot of attention for its highly controversial political lyrics. That same year, he landed an award at the Asian Music Awards under the category of Best MC. The next year, the talented singer was named a BBC Introducing Artist and he performed at events like the BBC Electric Proms and Glastonbury Festival.
In the subsequent years, the talented rapper has gone on to release several albums with his debut album being Microscope, which was released in 2011. He has also collaborated with several other music artistes like Tom Hard, Plan B, Jim Sturgess, and Scroobius Pip. More so, a song he was featured in entitled ‘Immigrant ( We Get The Job Done)’ received wide critical acclaim and went on to win an MTV Video Music Awards for Best Fight Against the System.
The Riz Test Was Propounded in Honor of the Entertainer’s Muslim Faith and Activism
The multifaceted entertainer is notable as an advocate for Muslims, especially as it regards how they are presented by the entertainment industry. Hence after giving a heart-melting speech about how Muslims are stereotyped in films at the House of Commons in 2017, two men identified as Dr. Sadia Habib and Shaf Choudry who resided in the UK, propounded what we now know as the Riz Test.
The test is divided into 5 parts and its main aim is to know how a character who plays a Muslim role is usually presented. The different sections address issues like Muslims being seen as terrorists, excessively angry, highly superstitious, domineering (for males), oppressed (for females), and posing as threats to the modern way of living.
Many have referred to the test as a way to assess Islamophobia, but the creators have maintained that its sole aim is to engage people and know their thoughts towards Muslims. Ahmed has also shown his support for the idea as he took to Twitter to share that he’s glad about the Riz Test.
Riz Ahmed’s Career Has Made Him a Wealth Man
Given the fact that Riz Ahmed is a multitalented entertainer who has thrived in his endeavors, it is expected that his paycheck is quite fat. Although he has been quite frugal about his earnings, it was gathered that the films he appeared in up until 2018 have made up to $2.4 billion in the box office. He can be credited for the success of a good number of these films, given the impressive performance he delivers in each movie.
As a musician, his songs have received wide recognition to the extent of topping box office charts. With such a massive success, Riz definitely receives a very sumptuous sum for his works. His net worth is currently estimated at $3 million and is bound to grow in the ensuing years if he maintains his career trajectory.
The Multi-faceted Entertainer Has Kept His Love Life Very Private
Information about Riz Ahmed’s life revolves around acting, music, and the activism he does for Muslims, especially the Rohingya people, and the representations of Muslims in the British Parliament, particularly in the House of Commons.
There is no available information about his love life and the actor has remained silent about this aspect of his life. The actor has also not given any room for rumors to spread about his love life as he has never been seen on the red carpet with any partner.
During interviews, Riz always ensures that he craftily avoids any questions targeted at his dating history. So for now, we will go with the widely held notion that the star actor cum rapper is single.
A Look at the Ethnicity and Islamic Background of the Entertainer
Rizwan Ahmed was born on the 1st of December 1982 in Wembley, London. He was born into a family of good repute with a direct familial connection to Sir Shah Muhammad Sulaiman, the first person from India to become the Chief Justice of a high court during the colonial rule of India and a commentator of science. He is also a descendant of Mulla Mahmud Jaunpuri who was one of the foremost scientists and philosophers of the 17th century.
Members of Riz’s family had originally moved from India to Pakistan and then his parents moved to the United Kingdom in 1970, choosing to settle in London. His father worked as a shipping broker while his mother’s occupation is not known. The Ahmed family are Pakistani Muslims and Riz was brought up in the ways of his culture and religion. He is also known to have an older brother named Kamran who works in the Psychiatric field.
Despite his non-western family background and lineage, Riz Ahmed has always found a way to fit into the society. For his high school, he attended the Merchant Taylors’ School in Northwood and from there, he went on to Christ Church, Oxford University where he studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.