Riz Ahmed
Riz Ahmed

British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed just made history at the 69th Emmy Awards.

The British Muslim became the first actor of Asian descent to take home a highly coveted Emmy Award for acting. Ahmed received the Outstanding Acting In A Limited Series award, for his role as Nasir “Naz” Khan on HBO's The Night Of.

The actor used his win to advocate for greater diversity

Ahmed also beat out some serious competition, which included Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert De Niro, Ewan McGregor, Geoffrey Rush and John Turturro.

Speaking to reporters backstage, Ahmed highlighted the importance of showing diversity in Western television shows and films.

"I think what we're starting to see is more awareness around how beneficial it can be to tell a diverse range of stories and to tell them in a way that's authentic," Ahmed said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"TV is in particular a global medium. People are streaming shows or watching them all around the world, so hopefully we’re going to see a globalization of the stories we're telling and a globalization of the talent pool," the actor said.

Ahmed has been an advocate for Muslims

Ahmed has previously been a major advocate for Muslims, often highlighting the stereotypical way that Muslims and other minorities are portrayed by Hollywood.

In June, Ahmed talked about his own experience being offered roles as terrorists when he was starting out his career.

"There was a lot of, like, Terrorist No. 3 stuff — I just made a decision I wasn't going to do it. I thought, 'I'd rather be broke'," Ahmed said in June, talking about launching his career.

He explained that while a lot of his early projects deal with issues around the war on terror or Islamophobia (The Road to Guantanamo, The Path to 9/11, Four Lions), they also engage with them in creative ways - ways that Ahmed hopes can help "move us forward rather than doubling down on lazy stereotypes." 

Despite the difficulties, Ahmed has found significant success in television and film, even starring in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Aziz Ansari also won big

Relatedly, Indian-American actor and writer Aziz Ansari, who comes from a Muslim family, also won big at the Emmy Awards. He took home the award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. 

Ansari shared the award with Lena Waithe for an episode they wrote for Master of None

Similar to Ahmed, Ansari has been an advocate for the Muslim and other minority communities.

In June of last year, Ansari published an op-ed in the New York Times titled: Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family.

"With the presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and others like him spewing hate speech, prejudice is reaching new levels," he wrote. "It’s visceral, and scary, and it affects how people live, work and pray. It makes me afraid for my family. It also makes no sense."

The day after Trump's inauguration, Ansari presented a scathing monologue against the president's Islamophobic rhetoric and policies via Saturday Night Live.