Riz Ahmed Biography

(The First Muslim Actor to be Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor)

Birthday: December 1, 1982 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Wembley, London, England

Rizwan Ahmed is a British actor and rapper, who came to limelight with his very first film, a docudrama called The Road to Guantánamo. Born into a family of first-generation Pakistani immigrant, he had to face a lot of racism in his childhood. Although their life began to change as more and more immigrants began to settle down in their locality race discrimination remained a part of his life.  Nonetheless, a bright student, he began acting while in school, which he continued throughout his years at Christ College, Oxford, before joining Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, beginning his career in the very year he graduated from there. A recipient of numerous acting awards and nominations, including an Oscar, he is also a well-known rapper and has two studio albums to his credit. Concurrently, he is also a renowned activist and has spoken candidly about negative stereotyping of Muslims and has raising awareness as well as funds for Syrian and Rohingya refugees.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In December

Also Known As: Rizwan Ahmed

Age: 40 Years, 40 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Fatima Farheen Mirza (m. 2020)

Born Country: England

Actors British Men

Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Males

More Facts

education: Central School Of Speech And Drama, Christ Church, Oxford

Childhood & Early Life

Rizwan Ahmed was born on 1 December 1982 in Wembley, a suburb located in north-west London, England. Little is known about his family, except that his father is a shipping broker, while his brother, Kamran Ahmed, is a psychiatrist and his sister, an attorney. They moved to UK sometime in 1970s.

A regular recipient of assistant places and scholarships, he always studied in schools outside the area and had his secondary education at Merchant Taylors' School (MTS), Northwood, which he entered under a scholarship program.  In this school, a lot of students came from Asian middle-class families, which helped him to adjust.

At MTS, clashes were always taking place between different groups and he enthusiastically took part in them until one day his teacher told him, “If you can muck about on stage, you get a clap for it, not a suspension”. Very soon, he began participating in school plays, loving every moment of it

A cultural shock awaited him when he entered Christ Church, Oxford University, to earn his degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). Initially, he was very depressed and isolated; unable to adjust to the Oxford culture, which he found “very classical and white“.

He tried entering the dramatic society, but there too he felt like an outsider, speaking and dressing differently from most of his college mates. While he was pondering about leaving the university, a new idea struck him and quickly he organized a club night called Hit and Run

From the very start, Hit and Run became a meeting point for those did not fit into the dominant elitist culture. Very soon, they were putting up different kind of plays like Jesus Hopped the A Train. He also became a part of a 12-person jazz-house/electronica band called Confidential Collective.

By the time he left Oxford, he was ready for a career in acting. Therefore, on earning his degree in PPE, he joined Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where he studied acting, earning his degree possibly in 2006.

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In 2006, ARIZ hmed began his career with a docudrama called The Road to Guantánamo, appearing in it as Shafiq Rasul. Shot in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran in the autumn of 2005, the film debuted on Channel 4, attracting 1.6 million viewers.

Also in 2006, he appeared in two other television productions, the first being a two-part miniseries called The Path to 9/11, which dramatizes the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 attack. The other is a television film called Berry's Way.

Equally active in the musical scene, he founded his own independent record label, Battered Records in 2006 and recorded a satirical rap track, Post 9/11 Blues, winning the 2006 Asian Music Awards for it. His second single, a garage rap song People Like People, would be released in the following year.

In 2007, he had his fourth work, a two-part television drama film called Britz released, starring in it as Sohail Wahid. It was followed in 2008 by Shifty, playing the title role in it. Equally active on television, he was Manesh Kunzru in Wired and Riq Rahman in Dead Set.

Also in 2008, he released his third single, Radar. It would be followed in 2009 by two more singles, Shifty and Don’t Sleep and in 2010 by Hundreds and Thousands and Get on it. Next in January 2011, he released his debut studio album Microscope.

Concurrently, he continued to act, appearing as Vijay in Rage (2009); starring as Omar in Four Lions (2010) and as Tarak in Centurion (2010). In 2011, he had two more films, Black Gold and Trishna, released, playing star roles in each of them.

In 2012, he received great acclaim for playing Aaron in Ill Manors. Appearing in the lead role in Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist was another milestone of that year.

In 2014, he debuted as a director, writing and directing an award-winning short film called Daytimer. In the same year, he appeared as Rick in the American neo-noir psychological thriller film, Nightcrawler, a portrayal which won him great critical acclaim.

In 2014, he co-founded a hip-hop group called the Swet Shop Boys, releasing an eponymous single in the same year. Two years later, they released their debut album, Cashmere, which picked at number 45 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

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In 2016, he had Jason Bourne, Una, City of Tiny Lights and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story released. Also in the same year, he returned to the television, starring as Nasir Khan in eight episodes of the crime drama miniseries, The Night of.

By 2017, he had secured an important place in the entertainment industry, winning several nominations for his role of Bodhi Rock in Rogue One and an MTV award for Immigrants (We Get the Job Done).  Again in 2019, he won several awards and nominations for his star role in Sound of Metal

In 2020, he once again made his mark as a writer with Mogul Mowgli, Concurrently starring in it as Zed.  Also in the same year, he released his second studio album, A Long Goodbye, which was accompanied by an eponymous short film.

In 2021, he had two films, Flee and Encounter, released. His next film, Nimona, is currently in production stage and is scheduled to be released in 2023.

Major Works

Riz Ahmed is possibly best known for his 2020 work Mogul Mowgli. The idea for the film began in 2017 when he met its director Bassam Tariq, eventually co-writing the script with him. Later, he also starred and coproduced the film; not only receiving accolades as an actor, but also as best debut screenwriter.

Awards & Achievements

In 2022, Riz Ahmed earned an Academy Award in the Best Live Action Short Film category for his short, The Long Goodbye. In the previous year, he had received nomination for the same award; but in the Best Actor category, for his role in Sound of Metal.

In 2017, he earned the Primetime Emmy Award in Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his role in The Night Of

Apart from these, he has earned several Festival and Critics awards as well as nominations for two Golden Globe Awards, two Bafta Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for his work in films like Ill Manors, Shifty, Sound of Metal, Daytimer, Mogul Mowgli etc.

Family & Personal Life

Sometime in 2020, Riz Ahmed married American writer Fatima Farheen Mirza, whom he first met in Brooklyn in 2016. The couple does not have any children.

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