British actor Riz Ahmed launched an initiative on Thursday to improve the image of Muslims in films after a study showed that they hardly appear or are portrayed in a negative way when they appear.
Ahmed, the “Sound of Metal” star and the first Muslim to be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, said the Muslim Inclusion initiative would include funding and mentoring Muslim storytellers in the early stages of their work.
“Representation of Muslims on screen fuels the policies that are pursued, the people being killed, and the countries being invaded,” Ahmed said in a statement.
He added, “The data do not lie. This study shows us that the magnitude of the problem in popular films, and its cost, is calculated in the potential opportunities wasted and lives lost.”
Ahmed, 38, was born in London to Pakistani parents. Providing the funding, he said, would be a game changer by bringing more Muslim actors, writers and producers into the film and TV show industry.
“If I had not received a scholarship and also a private donation, I would not have been able to attend a college to learn drama,” he said.
The $25,000 grants for young Muslim artists will be overseen by an advisory panel that includes actor Mahershala Ali, actor Ramy Youssef and comedian Hassan Minhaj.