Riz Ahmed

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For the cricketer, see Rizwan Ahmed (cricketer).
Riz Ahmed
Born Rizwan Ahmed
(1982-12-01) 1 December 1982 (age 31)
Wembley, London, England
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Central School of Speech and Drama
Occupation Actor, rapper
Years active 2006-present


Musical career
Genres Hip hop
Labels Tru Thoughts
Associated acts Plan B

Rizwan "Riz" Ahmed (born 1 December 1982), also known as Riz MC, is a British actor and rapper from Wembley, London, of Pakistani heritage. He has starred in The Road to Guantanamo, Shifty, Britz, Four Lions, Ill Manors and The Reluctant Fundamentalist.


Ahmed was born into a Muslim family in Wembley, London, England. He is of British Pakistani heritage. Ahmed's parents moved from Karachi, Pakistan to the UK during the 1970s which is where Ahmed was born and raised.

Ahmed attended Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood, through a scholarship programme. He graduated from Christ Church, Oxford, with a degree in PPE and studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London.

Acting career

Television and film

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. Coincidentally, 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. 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. 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. In July 2009 in appeared in Freefall alongside Sarah Harding. Most notably, he featured in the title role of the 2009 independent film Shifty, directed by Eran Creevy. Ahmed plays the charismatic young drug dealer in the film which sees a life in the day of this character. He was nominated for Best Actor at the 2008 British Independent Film Awards for this role, alongside Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.

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. Ahmed also had a supporting role in Neil Marshall's historical thriller Centurion.

He recently starred as one of the leading roles in the London based film Ill Manors (released in 2012), directed by Plan B as "Aaron": Ahmed received his third and most recent British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actor. 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.


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.

Music career

In 2006, Ahmed released a satirical social-commentary rap track entitled "Post 9/11 Blues". The song was initially banned from British airplay because the lyrics were deemed ‘politically sensitive’. Other tracks he has released include "Sour Times" which was accompanied by a video featuring Scroobius Pip, Plan B and Jim Sturgess.

He was selected as a BBC Introducing artist in 2007, playing the Glastonbury Festival and the BBC Electric Proms. 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. He played at the London Camp for Climate Action in August 2009.

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.

He released his debut album MICroscope in 2011.

On 1 December 2011 it was announced that Riz MC had signed to Tru Thoughts, a independent label in Brighton



Year Film Role Notes
2006 The Road to Guantanamo Shafiq
2008 Shifty Shifty Nominated—British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Won—Best Actor, Geneva Cinéma Tout Ecran
2009 Rage Vijay
2010 Four Lions Omar Nominated—British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Centurion Tarik
2011 Black Gold Ali
Trishna Jay
2012 Ill Manors Aaron Nominated—British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
2013 The Reluctant Fundamentalist Changez Directed by Mira Nair
Closed Circuit Nazrul Sharma
2014 Nighcrawler Filming


Year Show Role Notes
2006 The Path to 9/11 TV film
2007 Britz Sohail Wahid Two part serial for Channel 4
2008 Dead Set Riq TV mini series
2009 Freefall Gary TV film




  • MICroscope (2011)


  • "The Post 9/11 Blues" (2006)
  • "People Like People" (2007)
  • "Radar" (2008)
  • "Shifty" (with Sway & Plan B) (2009)
  • "Don't Sleep" (2009)
  • "Hundreds and Thousands" (2010)
  • "Get on It" (2010)
  • "All of You" (2011)



  1. Priyanka Dasgupta (2 May 2011). "Michael had me baptized by fire: Riz Ahmed". The Times of India. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  2. "Guantanamo duo 'held' at airport". BBC News. 21 February 2006. 
  3. Riz MC Signs to Tru Thoughts -
  6. Blaney, Martin (2011-12-08). "European Film Promotion unveils 2012 Shooting Stars longlist | News | Screen". Retrieved 2011-12-14. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Riz Ahmed at the Internet Movie Database
  • When even actors aren't safe New Statesman
  • Guardian piece on "Post 9/11 Blues"
  • BBC Film Network: short films featuring Riz Ahmed

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