Riz Ahmed Makes History at Emmy's; Aziz Ansari Repeat Winner

Riz Ahmed Makes History at Emmy's; Aziz Ansari Repeat Winner

Story tools

A A AResize

Print

 

HISTORY was made at the Emmy’s last night (Sept. 17) when TV’s most coveted honor was awarded to Riz Ahmed, the first Asian/American actor to win an Emmy.

Ahmed won the award for Outstanding Acting In A Limited Series for his work on HBO’s The Night Of. In his speech, the British actor gave a shout out in his acceptance speech to South Asian Youth Action and The Innocence Project for helping him prepare for his turn as Nasir ‘Naz’ Khan on the HBO limited series.

“It was an endurance test. It was quite emotionally and physically draining work,” Ahmed told EW. “But I just caught the slightest glimpse of what it would be like to be a prisoner, as an actor who got to go home every day, and I found it extremely difficult. I can’t even begin to think what it must be like for people who live in that situation. Just experiencing that for eight months and to shoot for eight months was new for me. So the fact that the most challenging project for me has also been probably the most prominent and successful, certainly in America, that’s satisfying.”

“It is always strange reaping the rewards of a story based on real world suffering but if this show has shown a light on some of the prejudice in our societies, xenophobia and some of the injustice in our justice system, then maybe that is something,” said Ahmed.


The only other Asian/American to win an Emmy for acting was Archie Panjabi who won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role on CBS’s The Good Wife in 2010.

For the second year in a row, Aziz Ansari won the award for Best Comedy Writing. He shared the award this year with Lena Waith who teamed up to write the “Thanksgiving” episode in Master of None’s second season.

Ansari stepped aside and let Waithe have her historic win as the first Black woman to win the Emmy for Best Comedy Writing.

“Thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a queer Black girl from Southside of Chicago,” said Waithe.

The episode the duo won was for the “Thanksgiving,” episode in which Waithe’s character, Denise comes out to her family. It immediately garnered acclaim, but more than that, it was a personal story for Waithe.

Ansari said of the episode, “It was pretty ambitious — even finding two young Indian kids was hard. It was the most demanding episode for the whole crew and everyone came through.”

Ansari added that he hopes “that people see the different kind of stories out there and that people are responding to them.”