He is a trailblazer when it comes to onscreen representation and became the first man of South Asian descent to win at the Emmys. However, it seems like Riz Ahmed can’t escape the Department of Homeland Security.
The “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” star recently revealed that he had to miss the Star Wars celebration in Chicago last month because the DHS wouldn’t allow him to board the plane.
Ahmed was speaking at the June 24 CAA Amplify leadership summit in Ojai, California, where led a panel about Muslim representation in Hollywood. The opened up about how he has to fight against discrimination on a daily basis in his real life, especially at airports where he has been constantly stopped and searched because of his race.
“[Hasan Minhaj] can win a Peabody, I can win an Emmy, Ibtihaj Muhammad can go to the Olympics, but some of these obstacles are systemic and we can’t really face them alone, we need your help,” news reports quoted Ahmed as saying.
“I’m basically here to ask for your help, because it’s really scary to be a Muslim right now. Super scary. I’ve often wondered, is this going to be the year when they round us up, if this is going to be the year they put Trump’s registry into action. If this is going to be the year they ship us all off.”
He also talked about the importance of Muslim representation in media and entertainment. “How I do what I do is because like all of you here, I’m a code-switcher,” Ahmed said. “We all know how to change the way we talk, the way we dress, the way we walk as we enter one room or another. We all know how to navigate terrain that isn’t of our own making. That’s how I can do it, but that’s not why I do what I do. The why is because I don’t want to have to code-switch anymore.”
Ahmed is the only second Asian actor to ever take home a trophy at the ceremony, following Archie Panjabi for “The Good Wife” in 2010.