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Riz Ahmed | Success Story of the Illustrious British-Pakistani Actor



Riz Ahmed

Riz Ahmed is an Academy Award-nominated actor and rapper. He began his acting career in 2006 with the critically acclaimed The Road to Guantánamo. Riz rose to fame during the 2010s after starring in films like Four Lions, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Jason Bourne, Nightcrawler, and Sound of Metal. In 2017, Riz created history by becoming the first-ever South Asian and first Muslim to win an Emmy award. He is also the first Muslim artist from Pakistan to receive an Academy Award nomination. Riz has been an essential part of the film and TV fraternity for over a decade.


Riz Ahmed is one of the prominent stars of the entertainment industry. He is one of the few actors who have advocated against Muslim stereotypes in Hollywood. Riz gained wider recognition as a musical artist after earning a spot in The Hamilton Mixtape. It was a mixtape album featuring one of the industry’s most talented artists. In his long and successful career, Riz has worked with iconic artists like Michael Fassbender, Kate Hudson, Om Puri, Jake Gyllenhall, Matt Damon, Felicity Jones, Joaquin Phoenix, Tom  Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Tommy Lee Jones. In 2017, Time included Riz Ahmed on the front cover of the annual list of 100 most influential people.

Early Life

On the 1st of December 1982, Rizwan Ahmed was born in Wembley, north-west London, England. His grandparents migrated to Pakistan from India during the partition. Later, in the 1970s, Rizwan’s parents moved to the United Kingdom from Karachi. Growing up, he used to speak Urdu at home. At the time, many people of color had to suffer from racism. Ahmed’s family was one of them. With the help of a scholarship program, Riz attended Merchant Taylors’ School. At age six, he began learning English. During his schooling years, children bullied him for his Asian roots. Due to harsh experiences, Riz became a hyperactive kid. Once, he threw a chair out of a window. As a result, his teachers tried to help him with his tendency.

Rizwan’s teachers told him to participate in school’s extracurricular activities. Two of them were debate and drama. Young Riz found solace in that space. At school, he did not just have to face racism from white people but from Asians too. As a result, Riz got into many fights during his school time. However, he started battling his anger through performing on stage. Soon, Riz began liking performance arts. After completing high school, he enrolled at Christ Church, Oxford University. Rizwan’s time at college wasn’t great either. The racism continued during his teenage years. At one point, he wanted to drop out of college due to the isolating environment. However, he decided not to give up. Gradually, Riz started organizing cultural celebration parties. Later, he started a nightclub that drew people from various cultures. Consequently, Riz finally felt at ease being surrounded by like-minded people. 

Beginning of Career

During his teen years, Riz started participating in freestyle rap battles. Later, his nightclub began gaining recognition as one of the leading underground music events. After graduating with a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics degree from Oxford, Riz won many rap competitions. In 2006, he competed in a renowned rap contest. Simultaneously, he took up the stage name Riz MC. The same year, Riz recorded a track called “Post 9/11 Blues.” Some of his friends leaked the single, which led to a controversial ban. Following the ban, Riz founded his record label and officially released the single. At the 2006 Asian Music Awards, he won the award for Best MC. The same year, Riz began his acting career. Michale Winterbottom cast him in the docudrama The Road to Guantanamo. He portrayed a British citizen detained by the USA in Cuba. For the portrayal, Riz gained considerable recognition.

Pathway to Success

In 2009, Riz Ahmed played the lead role in Eran Creevy’s Shifty. The film garnered positive critic reviews. For his portrayal of a charming drug dealer, Riz earned his first Best Actor nomination at BIFA. The following year, Riz starred in the black comedy Four Lions. It achieved commercial and critical success. Time included the movie in its Top 10 movies of 2010 list. But, in 2011, Riz failed to impress the critics or audiences. He starred in two unsuccessful films, Trishna and Black Gold. However, he returned with two massive successes in 2012. Riz appeared in The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Ill Manors. He co-starred with iconic stars like Kate Hudson, Keifer Sutherland, and Om Puri. During the mid-2010s, Ahmed’s popularity continued to grow.

Wider Recognition

In 2014, Riz starred in the psychological thriller Nightcrawler alongside Jake Gyllenhaal. The film earned an Oscar nomination. Nightcrawler’s success contributed to Ahmed’s popularity. Later, in 2016, he starred in the iconic Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The movie gained worldwide recognition. It was one of the year’s highest-grossing films. After the unparalleled success of Rogue One, he began getting more commercial roles. Riz appeared as the main lead in the Academy Award-winning drama Sound of Metal. He also starred as a supporting actor in Marvel’s blockbuster Venom. Between 2019-2021, Riz continued to act on significant projects. The film fraternity considers him one of the generation’s most talented artists.

Also read: Mahershala Ali | The First Muslim Actor to win an Oscar

How old is Riz Ahmed?

Riz Ahmed is 39 years old as of 2022. He was born on the 1st of December 1982 in Wembley, north-west London, England. His family is of British-Pakistani descent. Ahmed’s grandparents migrated to Pakistan during the India-Pakistan partition.

What is the net worth of Riz Ahmed?

Riz Ahmed’s net worth is estimated to be $3 million. He began his acting journey in 2006. In his successful career, Riz has starred in iconic movies like Four Lions, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Jason Bourne, Nightcrawler, and Sound of Metal.

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