Donate to RNS

Riz Ahmed first Muslim nominated for Best Actor Oscar

Ahmed’s nomination comes for his turn in 'Sound of Metal' as a drummer in a heavy-metal duo who grapples with increased hearing loss.

Riz Ahmed in “Sound of Metal.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

LOS ANGELES (RNS) — Riz Ahmed has made Academy Awards history as the first Muslim to be nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Ahmed’s nomination comes for his turn in “Sound of Metal” as a drummer in a heavy-metal duo who grapples with increased hearing loss.

The film picked up five other nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Paul Raci.


RELATED: Three Muslim actors make Golden Globe history


The 38-year-old actor is no stranger to the awards-show red carpet. He won an award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie at the 2017 Prime Time Emmy Awards for his performance in the acclaimed HBO series, “The Night Of.” Over the past five years, Ahmed has scored a number of nominations for Emmys, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the British Independent Film Awards.

Ahmed has also been nominated for two prior Golden Globe Awards, including this year for his performance in “Sound of Metal.” Ahmed was one of a record three Muslims nominated for dramatic performances at the Golden Globes this year. The Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, for which Ahmed was nominated, was posthumously awarded to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”   

Riz Ahmed in a scene from "Sound of Metal." Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

Riz Ahmed in a scene from “Sound of Metal.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

Prior to Ahmed’s nomination, a handful of Muslims had won Best Supporting Actor nominations. Mahershala Ali has won two Best Supporting Actor Oscars, first in 2017 for “Moonlight” and again in 2019 for “Green Book.” The first Muslim to be nominated for an Oscar for his theatrical performance was Omar Sharif in the film “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1962.


RELATED: MPAC Hollywood Awards to feature ‘The Mauritanian’


Away from the bright lights of Hollywood, the Pakistani-British Actor and London native is active in raising funds and awareness for a number of causes, including Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim community and Syrian refugees. Ahmed’s critically acclaimed music includes the song “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” which won an MTV Video Music Award in 2016.