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Riz Ahmed reflected on the “role of the story” during an acceptance speech for the best short film (live action) at this year’s Oscars.
The actor and musician, 39, took to the stage during the star-studded ceremony in Los Angeles to accept the award for The Long Goodbye.
The 11-minute film, directed and co-written by Aneil Karia, who joined him on stage, which is also co-written and stars Ahmed, tracks a family who are preparing for a wedding celebration when “the events unfolding in the outside world arrive suddenly on their doorstep”.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) March 28, 2022
Speaking on stage, Ahmed said: “In such divided times, we believe that the role of story is to remind us that there is no us and them, there is just us.
“This is for everyone who feels like they don’t belong, anyone who feels like they’re stuck in no-man’s land.
“You’re not alone, we’ll meet you there. That’s where the future is.”
Last year Ahmed was nominated in the best actor category for Sound Of Metal, where he played a drummer who loses his hearing, but lost out to Sir Anthony Hopkins, who won for The Father.
He first found fame with British audiences as one of four incompetent British terrorists who set out to train for and commit an act of terror in Chris Morris’s 2010 film Four Lions.
Since then the actor, who is also a rapper known as Riz MC, has starred in Nightcrawler, Jason Bourne, Venom and Star Wars film Rogue One, as well as TV outings on Girls and The Night Of.
Speaking in the winner’s room after collecting the award, Ahmed said: “It’s really important to tell all kinds of stories, stories about joy, stories about suffering and about all types of people, that’s really the point of what we’re doing here as storytellers.
“Story is a place where you can imagine yourself into someone else’s experience. By doing that it increases your empathy and opens your heart and your mind.
“It broadens your horizons about what you can relate to and how we’re all the same.
“So of course at a time when lots of migrants, refugees and immigrants are being so dehumanised, I think it’s really important to tell stories that change that.
“What we tried to do with our film is show the challenges, the dangers of where we might be headed, but it’s also to celebrate the joy and the community of the immigrant family at the heart of this story.
“We hope to keep telling stories that complicate and elevate our experience on screen so people can really emphathise.”
He revealed in January last year, during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, that he and US writer Fatima Farheen Mirza had tied the knot.
The actor joked about their supposed “secret” wedding and told Fallon: “It’s a weird one because we live in a social media age if you don’t get on the megaphone about stuff it’s like, it’s a secret.
“But I never know how much is oversharing.”
We put our nightmares on screen and they turned into a dream. Thank you to everyone who watched and shared this film, and got us to this point. https://t.co/lPoUenNbUC@TLGshort pic.twitter.com/lcbuoXLIu9
— Riz Ahmed (@rizwanahmed) March 17, 2022
In 2020 film Mogul Mowgli he starred as a British-Pakistani rapper called Zed on the cusp of his first world tour, who is struck down by an illness that threatens to derail his burgeoning career.
The film was subsequently nominated at the 2021 Baftas in the Outstanding British film category.
He established his own production company called Left Handed Films.