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Riz Ahmed

Riz Ahmed gave a speech on diversity at the House of Commons

Written by
Miriam Bouteba

Riz Ahmed, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways.

Whether he's rapping in the Swet Shop Boys, or starring in 'Four Lions', 'Girls' or 'Star Wars', the 34-year old polymath from Wembley is flawless. He's used Twitter as a force for good, raising money for Syrian refugees and speaking out about Islamophobia. But now he's taken the fight (and his charm) to the House of Commons, where yesterday afternoon, he delivered the Channel 4 Diversity Lecture to MPs and journalists.

He spoke of the importance of representation in the media and British Muslims seeing themselves reflected in culture: 'When we fail to represent, people switch off. They switch off their telly, they switch off at the ballot box. They retreat to fringe narratives, which are sometimes very dangerous.' And that it is underrepresentation that can cause people to join extremist groups,  'In the mind of the Isis recruit, he’s a version of James Bond, right? Everyone thinks they’re the good guy. Have you seen some of the Isis propaganda videos? They’re cut like action movies. Where’s the counter-narrative? Where are we telling these kids that they can be heroes in our stories?'

Appealing to the room he said, 'If you’re used to seeing yourself reflected in culture, I really want you to take a minute to understand how much it means to someone who doesn’t see themselves reflected back. Every time you see yourself in a magazine or on a billboard, TV, film, it’s a message that you matter, that you’re part of the national story, that you’re valued. You feel represented.' Three cheers to all of that, Riz! 


And judging by the response from the MP for Tottenham, David Lammy – who took to twitter to congratulate the star – it was a triumph. 

We asked Riz Ahmed to tell us his ten favourite films

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