Famed Pakistani British actor and rapper Riz Ahmed recently spoke up against the limited roles that actors of colour have in the entertainment sphere, saying he would rather be broke than play stereotypical characters.
Having starred in Rouge One: A Star Wars Story and HBO’S The Night Of, the actor got into this field when there was a focus of roles such as terrorists for which he did not wish to be a part of.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ahmed said,
“I just made a decision I wasn’t going to do it. I thought, ‘I’d rather be broke.’”
A lot of his early work reflects on dealing with real issues such as the war on terror and Islamophobia in distinct ways in hope of moving the society forward in depicting Asian characters, instead of “doubling down” on stereotypes. Ahmed also wants to use his work as a means to fight the status quo through his political roles.
Even with the limited roles for Asian and black characters, he points out that, “there are a certain subset of stories that are open for me to tell, and I’m glad to say that subset is kind of expanding”.
Ahmed has spoken about this issue earlier back in March when he delivered a speech in Parliament for the annual diversity lecture on Channel 4.
Back in March, he delivered a speech in Parliament for the annual diversity lecture on Channel 4.
According to Metro, he warned about the failures of the TV industry to fight for diversity and driving you people towards extremism.
“If we fail to represent, we are in danger of losing people to extremism,” Ahmed said, according to The Guardian. “In the mind of the [Islamic State] recruit, he’s the next James Bond right?“
“Have you seen some of those ISIS propaganda videos, they are cut like action movies,” he added. “Where is the counter-narrative? Where are we telling these kids they can be heroes in our stories, that they are valued?”