Riz Ahmed, also known as Riz MC, is a British actor and rapper. He is known for his work in independent films such as The Road to Guantanamo, Shifty, Four Lions, Trishna, Ill Manors before his breakout role in 2014’s Nightcrawler. Since then, he has appeared in the films Una, Jason Bourne, and the first in the Star Wars anthology, Rogue One.
Let’s see some facts about him!
1. Rizwan “Riz” Ahmed was born 1 December 1982 in Wembley, London, into a British Pakistani family.
2. His parents moved to England from Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan during the 1970s.
3. One of his relatives was Sir Shah Muhammad Sulaiman, “the first Indian judge appointed by the British in Uttar Pradesh”, who also had interests in Urdu poetry, penned some of the very first critical articles on Einstein’s theory of relativity, and himself was the descendant of Mulla Mahmud Jaunpuri (d. 1652), one of the most important philosopher-scientists produced in the region during the Mughal Empire.
4. Ahmed attended Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood through a scholarship programme. He graduated from Christ Church, Oxford with a degree in PPE, which he has said he found to be a bizarre experience.
5. He later studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
6. Ahmed’s film career began in the Michael Winterbottom film The Road to Guantanamo, in which he played the part of Shafiq Rasul, a member of the Tipton Three.
7. He and another actor involved in the film as well as two of the Tipton Three were detained at Luton Airport upon their return from the Berlin Film Festival where the film won a Silver Bear Award.
8. Across his years as an actor he has also featured in various TV roles. He has played Sohail Waheed in the 2007 Channel 4 drama, Britz.
9. 2008 saw him perform as both Riq in the five-part horror thriller for E4, Dead Set and Manesh Kunzru in ITV1’s finance fraud drama Wired.
10. In July 2009 in appeared in Freefall alongside Sarah Harding.
11. He featured in the title role of the 2009 independent film Shifty, directed by Eran Creevy.
12. Ahmed plays a charismatic young drug dealer in the film which sees a life in the day of this character.
13. He was nominated for Best Actor at the 2008 British Independent Film Awards for this role, alongside Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
14. Continuing his film career, he featured in the 2009 Sally Potter production of Rage and in 2010, in Chris Morris’ satire on terrorism, Four Lions, for which he received his second British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actor.
15. Ahmed also had a supporting role in Neil Marshall’s historical thriller Centurion.
16. In 2012, he starred as one of the leading roles in the London-based film Ill Manors, directed by Plan B as “Aaron”: Ahmed received his third and most recent British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actor.
17. He assumed the lead role in Mira Nair’s adaptation of the best-selling novel by Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, alongside Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi, and Liev Schreiber.
18. In 2014, Ahmed appeared in the film Nightcrawler where he played role of Rick, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal.
19. Ahmed received acclaim for his portrayal in the film and gained numerous awards nominations during awards season.
20. Starting in 2016, Ahmed played the role of Nasir “Naz” Khan in the HBO miniseries The Night Of, and once again received universal praise for his performance.
21. Also that year, he appeared in Rogue One, the first film in the new Star Wars anthology films.
22. Ahmed played a role in the Asian Dub Foundation opera Gaddafi and a starring role as psychotic serial-killer-turned-born-again-Christian Lucius in the Lighthouse Theatre’s acclaimed production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (directed by Jack William Clift and Thomas Sweatman) as well as in Shan Khan’s Prayer Room.
23. In 2006, Ahmed released a satirical social-commentary rap track entitled “Post 9/11 Blues”.
24. The song was initially banned from British airplay because the lyrics were deemed “politically sensitive.”
25. Other tracks he has released include “Sour Times” which was accompanied by a video featuring Scroobius Pip, Plan B and Jim Sturgess.
26. He was selected as a BBC Introducing artist in 2007, playing the Glastonbury Festival and the BBC Electric Proms.
27. He opened the Meltdown Festival with Bristol-based trip-hop group Massive Attack at the Royal Festival Hall in 2008, and was appointed ‘Emerging Artist in Residence’ at the Southbank Centre in London.
28. He played at the London Camp for Climate Action in August 2009.
29. Ahmed also co-founded the Hit & Run night in Oxford, which has since moved to Manchester. Hit & Run has gone on to become one of Manchester’s leading underground music events.
30. He released his debut album MICroscope in 2011.
31. On 1 December 2011, it was announced that Riz MC had signed to Tru Thoughts, an independent label in Brighton.
32. In February 2015, dubstep artist Distance announced that he had recently finished producing an album with Ahmed called HalfLife.
33. Ahmed is also half of the hip-hop duo Swet Shop Boys along with Himanshu Suri. Their debut release, Swet Shop EP, was released in 2014. The group’s debut full-length effort, Cashmere, was released on 14 October 2016.