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Riz Ahmed Makes History With Emmy Win

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British actor and musician Riz Ahmed made history last night, by becoming the first Asian and Muslim to take home an Emmy Award. 

Born to British Pakistani parents in London, Riz won over Robert De Niro, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Ewan McGregor to take home the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie category for his performance in The Night Of.

Riz, plays Nasir “Naz” Khan in the HBO drama, which follows the unpicking of a complicated murder case in New York City, in which Riz, a college student, is accused of murdering a girl on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

In his acceptance speech, Ahmed shared his award with his The Night Of co-star John Turturro, and paid tribute to the late James Gandolfini, who spearheaded the project from the beginning and was originally meant to star.

In a press conference afterwards, Ahmed spoke about the wider implications of him winning an Emmy acting award. “I don’t know if one person’s win of an award, one person snagging one role, or one person doing very well, changes something that’s a systemic issue of inclusion in this industry,” he said, “I think that’s something that happens slowly, over time. If there’s enough isolated examples of success then maybe the dots start joining up and it’s not as slow a process as it sometimes is.”

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