Pakistani-origin actor Riz Ahmed has made an effort to improve the way Muslims are portrayed in movies after a study showed that they are barely seen and shown in a negative light when they do appear.
The Sound of the Metal star said that the Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion would include funding and mentoring for Muslim storytellers in the early stages of their careers. The first Muslim to get a best actor Oscar nomination said, “The representation of Muslims on screen feeds the policies that get enacted, the people that get killed, the countries that get invaded.”
“The data doesn’t lie. This study shows us the scale of the problem in popular film, and its cost is measured in lost potential and lost lives,” he added. Titled “Missing and Maligned,” the study by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that less than 10 percent of top-grossing films released from 2017-2019 from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand featured at least one speaking Muslim character.
“Muslims live all over the world, but film audiences only see a narrow portrait of this community, rather than viewing Muslims as they are: business owners, friends and neighbors whose presence is part of modern life,” said Al-Baab Khan, one of the report’s authors.
Mahershala Ali had become the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar when he took home the trophy for the supporting actor. He had won the award for “Moonlight” in 2017 and won the same prize in 2019 for “Green Book.” Riz Ahmed also bagged a Golden Globe nomination for “Sound of Metal” earlier this year.
Ahmed previously broke barriers at the Emmys in 2017, when he won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series for The Night Of and became the first Muslim actor and first Asian actor to win in a lead acting category.