British-Pakistani actor, Riz Ahmed won the best actor in a limited series or a television movie award at last night’s Emmys for his performance in the mini-series, The Night Of, according to Hollywood Reporter.
Other actors contending for this award were Benedict Cumberbatch from Sherlock: The Lying Detective, Robert De Niro from The Wizard of Lies, Ewan McGregor from Fargo, Geoffrey Rush from Genius and John Turturro from The Night Of.
Ahmed is also the first Muslim actor, as well as the first South-Asian actor, to win an acting Emmy.
The first-time winner delivered a heart-warming acceptance speech in which he thanked his fellow category nominees and Turturro, saying, “It’s been amazing getting to watch you up close, and I share this with you, brother.”
Ahmed also gave the late James Gandolfini a shout-out onstage, adding that he hopes the series sheds light on the “injustice in our justice system.”
“I think what we’re starting to see is more awareness around how beneficial it can be to tell a diverse range of stories and to tell them in a way that’s authentic,” Ahmed told reporters. “Something that happened recently that I found really, really moving and I really applaud is the British actor Ed Skrein recently kind of turned down a role — it was a lucrative role”, he further added.
He said, “I know him personally, he’s a great guy and he just felt that he wanted to respect the cultural authenticity of that particular story and that character in Hellboy. So I think when you see examples of that, what we’re seeing is more awareness around this conversation and I think awareness if the first step to real change.”
Ahmed also pushed for “globalization” of stories and talent, saying, “TV is, in particular, a global medium. People are streaming shows or watching them all around the world, so hopefully, we’re going to see a globalization of the stories we’re telling and a globalization of the talent pool.”
Ahmed’s Nasir Khan, on The Night Of, is a Pakistani college student who finds himself in a mess at Rikers Island after becoming involved in a murder investigation.
The Primetime Emmy Awards were held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Stephen Colbert hosted the prestigious television event.
Watch Riz Ahmed’s complete acceptance speech below: