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 and Ill Manors . 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.
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.
Television and film
Ahmed's film career began in the
Michael Winterbottom film in which he played the part of The Road to Guantanamo 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, . 2008 saw him perform as both Riq in the five-part horror thriller for Britz E4, and Manesh Kunzru in ITV1's finance fraud drama Dead Set . In July 2009 in appeared in Wired alongside Freefall Sarah Harding. Most notably, he featured in the title role of the 2009 independent film , directed by Shifty 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 and in 2010, in Rage Chris Morris' satire on terrorism, , for which he received his second Four Lions 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
(released in 2012), directed by Ill Manors 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 and a starring role as psychotic serial-killer-turned-born-again-Christian Lucius in the Lighthouse Theatre's acclaimed production of Gaddafi Stephen Adly Guirgis's (directed by Jack William Clift and Thomas Sweatman) as well as in Shan Khan's Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train Prayer Room.
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
Singles "The Post 9/11 Blues" (2006)
"People Like People" (2007)
Shifty" (with (2009) Sway & Plan B) "Don't Sleep" (2009)
"Hundreds and Thousands" (2010)
"Get on It" (2010)
"All of You" (2011)
Priyanka Dasgupta (2 May 2011). "Michael had me baptized by fire: Riz Ahmed". The Times of India . Retrieved 18 April 2011.
"Guantanamo duo 'held' at airport". BBC News. 21 February 2006.
Riz MC Signs to Tru Thoughts - http://www.tru-thoughts.co.uk/news/riz-mc-signs-to-tru-thoughts
Blaney, Martin (2011-12-08). "European Film Promotion unveils 2012 Shooting Stars longlist | News | Screen". Screendaily.com . Retrieved 2011-12-14.
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