NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Riz Ahmed has become the first man of Asian descent, and the first Muslim actor, to win an acting award at the Emmys.
The British actor of Pakistani descent won in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie category for his role in ‘The Night Of.’ He plays Nasir “Naz” Khan, a Pakistani/Iranian American college student accused of murdering a young woman, in a show which partly examines the brutal effects of racism within the criminal justice system.
Only one actor of Asian descent had ever won an acting Emmy prior to the 69th Emmy Awards on Sept. 17, and that was Archie Panjabi in 2010. She won the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Kalinda Sharma on CBS’ ‘The Good Wife.’
“I want to say it is always strange reaping the rewards of a story based on real world suffering,” Ahmed said in his acceptance speech. But if this show has shown a light on some of the prejudice in our societies, xenophobia, some of the injustice in our justice system, then maybe that is something.”
Commenting on diversity in the entertainment industry, Riz said during a backstage interaction, “I don’t know if any one person’s win of an award, or one person snagging one role, or one person doing very well changes something, that’s a systemic issue… I think that’s something that happens slowly over time.”
“People are streaming shows or watching them all around the world. Hopefully, we’ll see a globalization of our storytelling.”
Other highlights for people of color:
Donald Glover became the first Black winner of the award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series in ‘Atlanta,’ ‘Master of None’ star Lena Waithe became the first Black woman to win the award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and Sterling K. Brown of ‘This Is Us’ became the first Black man to win Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 19 years.