On Thursday, Academy Award-nominated actor Riz Ahmed launched an effort to change the way Muslims are depicted in movies.
This comes after a new study showed that they were barely seen and presented in a negative light when they do.
Titled “Missing and Maligned,” the study by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that discovered that less than 10% of top-grossing films from 2017-2019 from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand featured a Muslim character on screen.
The study highlighted that when Muslims did appear they depicted as outsiders, or threatening, or subservient, noting that about one-third of Muslim characters were perpetrators of violence and more than half were targets of violence.
Ahmed, the “Sound of Metal” star and the first Muslim to get a best actor Oscar nomination, is leading the way in a new initiative for Muslim representation in media, in partnership with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the Ford Foundation, and Pillars Fund.
“Muslim Misrepresentation in Film. I’m fed up of seeing Muslim characters on-screen either negative or non-existent. The industry must change. Our new study proves what many of us always felt about #MuslimsInFilm. The cost is measured in hate and lost lives,” Ahmed said in a statement on Instagram.
Ahmed, who was born in London to Pakistani parents, stated that offering funding would be game-changing in getting more Muslim actors, writers, and producers into the movie and TV business.
The actor noted that if he had not received a scholarship and a private donation, he wouldn’t have been able to attend drama school.
Fellowships of $25,000 for young Muslim artists, will be decided by an advisory committee that includes actors Mahershala Ali, Ramy Youssef, and comedian Hasan Minhaj.